At West Texas Eye Associates, serving Lubbock, Midland, and the nearby region, we offer both LASIK and LASEK eye correction procedures. They're similar procedures. They even correct the same eye issues. However, LASEK often provides better results for some patients.
About the LASEK Procedure
The acronym LASEK stands for laser epithelial keratomileusis. Just like LASIK, we use it to correct vision problems like farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, and even presbyopia. LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) reshapes your cornea. During LASIK, our eye surgeon cuts deep into the outer portion of the eyeball. On the other hand, if you have LASEK, our eye surgeon only needs to cut into the outer layer of the cornea. This region of your eye is known as the epithelium. If you have LASIK, our practitioner makes a thicker incision into the corneal tissue using a microkeratome blade. With LASEK, our eye surgeon makes a shallow cut into the cornea.
Before the surgery, our ophthalmologists administer a solution consisting of alcohol to loosen the epithelial layer. This makes it more pliable, so our ophthalmologists may lift it easier. Then, they fold the epithelial layer to one side. Next, they apply the laser to the middle layer of your cornea to reshape it. Lastly, our eye surgeon places the epithelial layer back to its original position.
Benefits of LASEK
For most patients, either LASEK or LASIK is safe and provides results. However, the outcome of LASEK is usually better in the long run. Additionally, the possibility of complications is less in patients who undergo LASEK than those who undergo LASIK. For instance, there's less of a risk of infection. Moreover, patients tend to have less of a risk of corneal hazing. Additionally, there isn't a risk of cutting an irregular flap, which could occur during a LASIK procedure. Patients who undergo LASEK regain the nerve sensation in their cornea more rapidly. Ultimately, this results in fewer incidents of dry eye, which commonly occurs in LASIK patients. Some patients who undergo LASEK do have more pain initially though. Some people who undergo LASEK have a quicker recovery, but usually, the recovery time is slightly higher.
Who's a Candidate for LASEK
In order to qualify for laser eye surgery, a person has to have enough corneal tissue. Since LASIK involves cutting deep into the tissue, LASEK is ideal for people who have a thin or irregularly shaped cornea.
Possible Side Effects and Complications of LASEK
The possible side effects of LASEK are similar to LASIK. After the procedure, you may have blurry vision or see halos or glare. These side effects are temporary and decrease over time. It's possible for you to not have enough eye correction or have too much, but our surgeon uses precision to reduce these possibilities. While you may have dry eye, it tends to be less than if you would have undergone LASIK. Infection or irritation could occur after the procedure, but we can prescribe an antibiotic to correct the infection.
If your epithelial flap isn't strong enough, we may need to remove it completely. Since LASEK uses an alcohol solution, the recovery time is often a bit longer than LASEK because the epithelial cells may take a bit more time to heal.
Generally, LASEK isn't our first choice for patients due to the increased recovery time and elevated amount of discomfort after the procedure. However, for patients who have issues with their cornea and still desire laser eye surgery, LASEK is an effective solution. It does have its share of benefits though and is just as effective as LASIK.
Schedule an appointment with West Texas Eye Associates to discuss if LASEK if right for you by calling us at (806) 792-5900. We provide the Lubbock and Midland area with options to eliminate -- or significantly reduce -- their need for corrective eyewear.