Laser-assisted in situ epithelial keratomileusis, or LASEK, can be provided at our Wilmington, DE, practice to treat astigmatism, myopia, or hyperopia. It is often recommended to patients who do not qualify for LASIK due to having steep or thin corneas. If you want to reduce or eliminate your need for corrective eyewear, but do not qualify for LASIK or other refractive surgeries, our doctors can determine if LASEK is the right solution for you.
LASEK versus Other Refractive Surgeries
As with procedures such as LASIK and PRK, an excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal tissue. LASEK differs from LASIK and PRK in the way the stroma (the middle layer of the cornea) is accessed.
During LASEK, an alcohol solution is used to weaken and partially detach the epithelium (the outer layer of the cornea). Once the necessary refinements are complete, the tissue is replaced, and healing is fostered with a special contact lens. During LASIK, a microkeratome device or a laser is used to create a hinged flap in the cornea. After surgery, the flap is replaced with no need for sutures or special lenses. LASEK requires a longer healing period than LASIK. During PRK, a mechanical device is used to completely remove the epithelial layer. Because of this, it requires a longer recovery period than LASIK and LASEK.
One of our refractive surgeons will perform a thorough examination of your eyes, measuring corneal thickness and other characteristics to determine which refractive surgery is right for you. The surgeon will also review your medical history to make sure there are not any health conditions that could complicate surgery or prevent your eyes from healing properly.
Advantages over LASIK
Though many qualifying candidates choose to undergo LASIK, there are unique advantages to undergoing LASEK. For example, because the flap created during LASEK is thinner, there is a reduced risk of developing dry eye syndrome. Meanwhile, the flap created during LASIK never completely heals. Therefore, if your hobbies or occupation place you at risk of ocular injury that could disrupt a corneal flap, LASEK may be a better solution for your needs.
The LASEK Procedure
On the day of surgery, you will be comfortably seated in a reclining chair and anesthetic drops will be administered to numb the eye and surrounding tissues. Once you are comfortable, a speculum will be used to stabilize your eyelids and prevent them from opening and closing. The alcohol solution will then be applied to the outer layer of your cornea for about 30 seconds. As the solution begins to activate, it will weaken the epithelial layer, making it easier to gently set aside. Once the underlying tissues are exposed, the surgeon will use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. Upon completion, the epithelium will be reapplied.
What to Expect during Recovery
After surgery, a special contact lens will be applied to protect your eyes from irritation and facilitate healing. This should be worn for about three to four days to allow the epithelial layer to adequately reattach. It is common to experience dizziness, blurred vision, or a gritty sensation in your eyes immediately after surgery. You will need a loved one to drive you home. The following day, you will return to Eye Physicians and Surgeons, P.A. so the surgeon can assess your eyes for any complications. Most patients are able to achieve functional vision in about one to two weeks. Wearing sunglasses and using your medicated eye drops as directed will aid in your recovery. It could take three to six months for your vision to fully stabilize.
Schedule Your Consultation
If you are interested in the benefits of LASIK or PRK, but have been told that you do not qualify, LASEK may be a viable option. Contact our office online or by calling (302) 652-3353 to schedule your consultation.