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Refractive Surgery: LASEK

LASEK (pronounced “Lay-SEEK”) stands for laser epithelial keratomileusis. It is a technique for reshaping corneal tissue. It can help you see better without glasses or corrective lenses. The epithelium (top layer of cornea) is softened with an alcohol solution. This makes a flap in the cornea. An excimer laser is then used to reshape the corneal tissue below the flap. The excimer laser produces a concentrated beam of cool ultraviolet (UV) light. LASEK can treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (vision distortions caused by cornea irregularities).




What to Expect During the Procedure

  • Before treatment, you may be given medication to help you relax.

  • Eyedrops numb your eyes. A device is used to keep your eyes open.

  • An instrument with alcohol solution in it is briefly placed on the cornea. The surgeon then rolls back the softened epithelium to expose the inner corneal tissue.

  • Your surgeon uses a computer-guided excimer laser to reshape the cornea. Laser treatment lasts for 10–90 seconds.

  • The epithelium is folded back over the cornea. You will wear a contact lens as a bandage for a few days. This protects the cornea as it heals.

  • For a few days after the procedure, your vision may seem worse. It should begin to improve in about 5 days, and become stable in about 6 months.

Pros of LASEK

  • Better for patients with thin corneas, previous glaucoma surgery, mild corneal scars, or other cornea problems

  • Possibly less postoperative discomfort, haze, regression, or corneal scarring than with PRK

  • Possibly faster vision recovery than with PRK

Cons of LASEK

  • Mild to moderate pain after surgery

  • Longer vision recovery than LASIK

  • May need to use eyedrops for 3 months or longer

  • Risk of corneal scarring or haze

  • Possible temporary or permanent dry eye

  • Risk of night vision problems, such as halos or glare

  • Possible undercorrection or overcorrection

  • Possible loss of best corrected vision


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