LASEK and LASIK are both eye procedures done to correct visual errors.
LASEK and LASIK are both eye procedures done to correct visual errors.

Your eye surgeon will assess your eye condition and examine which can be best for you.

Advantages of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK):

  • It is a quick procedure.
  • In higher myopia (nearsightedness less than -6.00 D), LASIK has better results.
  • It is tolerable to a majority of the people.

Advantages of laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK):

  • It can correct the vision of the eye in a person with a thin cornea. A thin cornea is common in contact lens users.
  • It produces less dry eye compared with LASIK.
  • Because there is no flap, there are no flap-related complications such as scarring of the cornea or ectasia of the cornea.

Some studies concluded that regardless of some differences after the surgery, both the procedures seem to be safe, effective, and predictable for the treatment of 

Although both the treatments have the same benefits and are of the same quality, if you have a thin clear layer of the eye (cornea), preexisting eye diseases, or certain conditions, then LASIK will not be suitable for you. However, LASEK would be an option. LASEK (cornea) reduces the recovery time and discomfort after the procedure.

Your eye surgeon will suggest the procedure based on the characteristics of your condition such as activities, lifestyle, the thickness of the clear layer of the eye (cornea), and required visual rehabilitations.

What is LASIK?

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is performed to correct vision error by using a laser. It has been performed since the late 1980s to improve farsightedness (hyperopia), near-sightedness (myopia), or imperfect eye curvature (astigmatism).

During LASIK, your eye surgeon induces the first laser that creates a very thin layer protective flap on the clear membrane (cornea) of your eye. Then, the second laser is used to correct your vision by lifting this protective flap. If you have vision errors in both the eyes, they can be treated on the same day. The recovery process is fairly quick in this procedure. You can drive or start working after 24 hours. Most people regain an error free vision in about four to six weeks after the procedure.

Your eye doctor may not suggest this surgery if you

  • Have unstable vision errors.
  • Have hyperopia (extreme farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), or astigmatism (imperfect eye curvature).
  • Have a cone-shaped clear cornea.
  • Have a very thin clear layer of the eye.
  • Have glaucoma (advanced eye nerve damage).
  • Have a severe dry eye.
  • Have poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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What is LASEK?

Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK) is performed to correct vision error. It is a newer and less-invasive procedure. This procedure has been performed since 1996. If you have a thin cornea or preexisting disease or condition that makes your eye surgery more challenging, this is the best option for you.

During this surgery, only one laser ray is used to correct your vision. In this procedure, an alcohol solution loosens the thin layer of cells of your eye’s surface (corneal epithelium). These cells then stick to a sheet that gently moves to the side of your eye, which provides easy access to the surgeon to the clear layer of your eye (cornea) to treat it through laser.

After reshaping the clear layer of your eye (cornea), special protective lenses will be put on your eyes to increase your comfort and healing process. The lens will be taken off after four days.

Both the eyes can be treated on the same day similar to laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK). Many patients can experience improvement in their vision in a few hours; however, it may take a few days or sometimes weeks to resolve your vision. Slightly longer recovery time for LASEK is a small compromise for long-term correction of your vision, which you will never get from any other surgery.

What are the complications of both LASIK and LASEK?

Some temporary or permanent complications of both procedures are as follows:

  • Eye pain and discomfort
  • Hazy, blurry vision
  • Scratchy eye
  • Sensitivity toward light
  • Starburst or halos around the light
  • Eye infection
  • Persistence visual error(rare)

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Medically Reviewed on 10/6/2020
References
Medscape: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1222702-overview

American Academy of ophthalmology: https://eyewiki.aao.org/LASEK

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/lasik

https://www.aao.org/search/results?q=laser-assisted%20subepithelial%20keratectomy&realmName=HTTP&wt=json&rows=10&start=0

https://europepmc.org/article/med/18614136

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011080.pub2/references

Kuryan J, Cheema A, Chuck RS. Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK) versus laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) for correcting myopia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;2(2):CD011080. Published 2017 Feb 15. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011080.pub2

https://www.cochrane.org/CD011080/EYES_two-different-surgeries-treat-near-sightedness

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Laser-assisted-subepithelial-keratectomy-(LASEK)-Kuryan-Cheema/2fc2ed229d22fcd6b6cf34cfcf6dedc5abd5ead3

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