LASEK vs LASIK
The range of treatments available and the deceptive marketing tactics of some Laser Eye Surgery providers (*cough* high street clinics *cough*) can make it difficult to know which one to choose.
But underneath all the flashy branding, endless promotions, and ever more impressive sounding treatment names, the number of Laser Eye Surgery techniques are actually very few.
All Laser Eye Surgery techniques work by reshaping the permanent tissue, or stroma, that sits in the corneal bed. The one thing that differs is the way in which they access this tissue.
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In the 80s, the best way to do this was by either losing the epithelium with an alcohol solution and moving it to one side, as in PRK, or completely removing it, as in LASEK.
LASEK: The original surface treatment
These methods were named surface treatments, and since the early 90s expanded to include a number of very similar forms of Laser Eye Surgery including ASA, Epi-LASIK, and Epi-LASEK.
Surface treatments are effective as the epithelium possesses the incredible ability to repopulate a whole new layer of cells in a short amount of time. But disrupting it in this way does have its drawbacks. The main ones being a longer recovery time, the likelihood of experiencing discomfort, and having to wear a soft contact lens while the epithelium regrows.
There are no differences in the end result, it’s just with LASEK it takes longer to get there — two to three weeks after LASEK you will be able to drive again but you may not achieve your best vision until six weeks to three months after.
LASEK still has its advantages, for instance in treating patients with unusually thin or flat corneas. Today, at the London Vision Clinic, we only use LASEK/PRK for 5 to 10 percent of patients.
LASIK: A new way to do things
Developed in the late 80s, LASIK, or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, revolutionised Laser Eye Surgery and introduced the microkeratome to the industry.
Whereas in the past the epithelium posed as a wall surgeons needed to get around, the microkeratome allowed them to simply create a doorway.
The instrument is used to cut a one-hundredth of a millimeter thick circular flap in the epithelium and expose the corneal bed underneath. The surgeon then removes a precise amount of tissue and the flap is replaced to its original position. As it’s only the edges that need to heal, the flap regains most of its structural integrity within just a few hours.
Due to its efficiency and less disruptive means of accessing the stroma, LASIK quickly became the most popular type of laser Eye Surgery in the world.
Not only is the procedure quicker (taking less than 15 minutes to perform), but the recovery process is much shorter and more comfortable.
As soon as the procedure is finished, patients see immediate improvements in their vision and return to your normal routine as soon as the next day.
Whether you suffer from shortsightedness, longsightedness, presbyopia, or astigmatism, LASIK is the industry standard you will find in most clinics today.
Can’t decide which is best or more appropriate for you? Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. If you’d like to find out more about our treatment options or book a consultation at London Vision Clinic or leave us a comment below or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.