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lasek Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK)

LASEK is an abbreviation for Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis. This procedure is the merging of the desirable features of LASIK and PRK. In this procedure, there is no microkeratome used to create a corneal flap. Instead a dilute solution of alcohol is applied to loosen and remove only the very surface of the epithelium. In this way, it is similar to PRK and can be used for patients who have thin corneas. Once the epithelial layer has been removed, an excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea, as in both LASIK and PRK. Upon completion of the excimer laser treatment, the epithelial layer is then returned to its original position.

LASEK has the relative advantage in that it avoids any of the potential complications encountered while making the flap and during the flap healing process. The relative disadvantage is that, as with PRK, vision recovery is slower than LASIK and there is often moderate, but temporary discomfort for a few days after the procedure.

Generally, a thin soft bandage contact lens will be worn for several days after treatment to help with healing and minimize discomfort. Good functional vision is usually achieved within 7 days after treatment. For patients with thin corneas and sometimes for farsighted, or hyperopic patients, LASEK may be recommended as the best treatment option. After a thorough consultation, your eye surgeon will make a recommendation about whether LASIK, Epi-LASIK, PRK or LASEK will provide you with the best and safest results.

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updated 10/8/08