Laser refractive surgery refers to all the surgical procedures on the cornea that correct for near-sightedness (myopia), far-sightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism prescriptions. The surgical procedures are performed by surgeons, and our optometrists care for you throughout the post-surgery recovery period. This shared responsibility between the surgeon and primary eyecare optometrist is called co-management.
LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) is a relatively new type of corrective laser eye surgery. It employs an alcohol solution to loosen the outer epithelial layer of the cornea. The laser then treats the exposed cornea surface, and the epithelial flap is replaced as a natural bandage. LASEK is an alternative for those patients who are not candidates for LASIK surgery.
Reasons to consider LASEK:
- Wish to reduce or eliminate dependence on glasses or contacts for those with myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism.
- The epithelial layer is kept, reducing healing time and pain compared to PRK.
- An alternative for patients with thin corneas who are not candidates for LASIK.
- Reduces the chances of post-operative corneal haze, compared to PRK.
- Patients experience dry-eye less often after LASEK than compared to LASIK.
Are you a good candidate?
Our doctors are experienced in laser refractive surgery co-management. They will determine whether you are a good candidate, prepare you for surgery, and take care of you throughout the entire recovery period. We have a dedicated Laser Vision Coordinator who will answer questions and provide information regarding the latest laser treatments for your type of prescription. Laser refractive surgery is typically considered cosmetic and financing is available.
The Surgical Procedure
For the LASEK procedure, the surgeon first creates an epithelial flap. Alcohol is used for about 30 seconds to loosen the epithelial cells. Then the epithelium is lifted, with the help of a trephine blade, and folded aside, to allow access to the inner layers of the cornea. At this point, the excimer laser ablates the carefully-exposed, underlying cornea tissue, just as in LASIK and PRK, by removing corneal tissue. The laser works on enough tissue to counteract the patient’s prescription. After the laser correction is complete, the surgeon replaces the epithelial flap, and applies a bandage contact lens to aid in healing.
Co-Management Throughout Recovery
Usually the patient must wear the bandage contact lens for ~7 days. The patient should rest and refrain from any strenuous activities. Most patients can return to work in a few days. Our Laser Vision Coordinator will schedule several follow-up checks with our optometrists, starting at day 1 post-surgery, to monitor the healing process. The post-surgical checks will focus on proper healing, inflammation control, and infection prevention. Your optometrist will also remove the bandage contact lens when the timing is correct.