Laser Epithlelial Keratomileusis
LASEK represents a surgical advancement of PRK, which was the original laser vision correction procedure, first approved by the FDA in 1995. It combines certain elements of both PRK and the more popular LASIK procedure and may offer some advantages over LASIK for certain patients. With LASEK, instead of removing the epithelium as with PRK, a flap of surface epithelium is loosened with a diluted alcohol solution and moved aside. The surface under the epithelium is treated with the laser, and the epithelial flap is returned to its original position, as with LASIK. A protective, soft contact lens is then placed over the cornea to make the eye more comfortable while it heals.Using the epithelial flap as a natural protective bandage with LASEK, as opposed to completely removing the epithelium as with PRK, may improve healing. It may also reduce postoperative discomfort and the incidence of postoperative haze. Plus, the margin of safety with LASEK is increased over LASIK as the need for microkeratome is eliminated.It usually takes from five to seven days for the epithelium to fully heal. Because the return to functional vision is longer than with LASIK, some LASEK patients prefer to have one eye treated at a time.