LASEK eye surgery is one of the newer types of laser eye surgery. It is a popular option for people who are nearsighted, farsighted or who have astigmatism and are ready to say goodbye to their glasses or contact lenses. LASEK, which stands for Laser Epithelial Keratomilieusis, is a form of refractive surgery used to correct vision by changing the way light is bent as it passes through the cornea of the eye. During the procedure, the eye surgeon carefully reshapes the cornea changing the way it bends (or refracts) light.
Are You a Candidate?
LASEK is typically recommended for patients whose cornea is too thin or whose pupils are too large for other forms of laser eye surgery, such as LASIK. An eye exam will be performed to determine whether you are a good candidate for this procedure. In general, patients are adults in good overall health and whose eye prescriptions have not changed over the past year. Certain medications, medical conditions, or eye issues may make you a poor candidate for LASEK and other forms of refractive surgery.
The procedure takes just an hour or two to perform. Patients remain awake and anesthetic eye drops are used to numb the area before the procedure begins. Although patients will be able to see during the surgery, you can expect your eyesight to be blurry.
The main difference between LASEK and other forms of laser eye surgery, is the method used by the surgeon to gain access to the underlying tissue of the cornea which must be reshaped. During the procedure, the outer layer of the cornea remains intact. However, this microscopic layer is temporarily removed from the eye with the use of a surgical blade. Once an alcohol solution is used to loosen this layer, known as the epithelium, it is gently removed.
Next, laser energy is used to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. This precise reshaping of the cornea is what improves the patient’s vision. Once this process is completed, the surgeon places the epithelial flap back over the eye where it adheres naturally without stitches.
Possible Risks & Complications
The rate of complications with LASEK is lower than that associated with other vision correction surgeries. The potential complications are vision-related, such as blurred vision, glare, poor night vision, and halos. These side effects typically resolve themselves within several months of the surgery. Although rare, some of these side effects may be permanent.
Because the outer surface of the eye remains intact, the recovery time is lower than that of other forms of laser eye surgery. Most patients take a few days away from work and other activities. When you first return home, your eyes will still be blurry from the surgery. Many patients notice an immediate improvement in their vision, while others find that their vision improves gradually over several weeks. During this time, it is important not to do anything that would strain or irritate the eyes such as contact sports and swimming.
Cost of LASEK Surgery?
The average cost of LASEK eye surgery is approximately $1,500 to $3,000 per eye. This cost can vary significantly from doctor to doctor, and includes the surgeon’s fee, use of the facility and specialized equipment, and both pre- and post- surgery care, such as medicated eye drops. The costs are not usually covered by health insurance because it is considered an elective procedure. However, there are financing options available to help make the cost of LASEK affordable. Don’t let the upfront cost dissuade you from achieving better vision.