Lasek eye surgery is a type of laser eye surgery and accounts for approximately 10% of all procedures that are carried out. Your surgeon will generally recommend Lasek if you are not suitable for the more commonly performed Lasik surgery. Lasek is often referred to as PRK or Epi-Lasek and although there are slight differences between the 3 procedures, they are all pretty much the same.
Lasek eye surgery is generally only used on people with thin corneas (e.g. too thin to have Lasik) or for those who are involved in contact sports. The reason it is recommended for people who are involved with contact sports is that there is no weakening of the surface of the eye following Lasek, although this is not true of Lasik.
The procedure is extremely safe and the results are very impressive. The aim of Lasek is to use a laser to reshape the surface of your cornea (outer part of your eye) to eliminate the prescription in your glasses/contact lenses. This is done slightly differently depending on whether you are long-sighted, short-sighted or have astigmatism. The following explains this in more detail:
- Long sighted prescriptions (plus prescriptions): If you are long-sighted, this effectively means that your cornea is too weak and hence your vision is out of focus. The laser effectively reshapes the surface of your cornea to increase its power and hence eliminate your prescription.
- Short-sighted prescriptions (minus prescriptions): If you are short-sighted, this effectively means that your cornea is too powerful and hence your vision is out of focus. The laser effectively reshapes the surface of your cornea to decrease its power and hence eliminate your prescription.
- Astigmatism: You can read how laser eye surgery corrects astigmatism here.
The way in which the laser reshapes the surface of your eye is exactly the same for both Lasik and Lasek. The only real difference between the 2 procedures is that during Lasek, the laser is used to reshape the outer surface of the cornea, whereas, during Lasik, the inner layers of the cornea are treated.
The Lasek Procedure:
The main difference with Lasik is that there is no flap created in Lasek eye surgery. Instead, the epithelium (outer corneal layer) is loosened/softened with an alcohol solution and then gently moved to the side. This enables the surgeon to access the correct layer of your cornea that needs to be lasered during the procedure. Once the laser has been applied, the epithelial layer is then gently replaced to where it was previously and the eye is left to heal. For more detailed information on the Lasek procedure, you can click here.
The recovery period after Lasek is generally longer and more painful than following Lasik and the following guide will explain this in more detail: Lasek recovery guide
To read more about the differences between Lasik and Lasik you can read our extensive guide.
Prescription Parameters: Lasek Eye Surgery:
- Short-sightedness: -0.75 to -9.00DS.
- Long sightedness: +0.75DS to +4.00DS.
- Astigmatism: Standard treatment: Up to +/- 3.00Dcyl. Wave front: up to +/- 6.00Dcyl.
This is only a rough guide to Lasek eye surgery parameters as they vary widely from company to company, surgeon to surgeon and depends on the individual being treated.