Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis
LASEK eye surgery is the most advanced, high-tech form of PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy). PRK was the first laser vision correction procedure approved by the FDA and it continues to be a safe, effective choice for people who are not LASIK candidates.
Some people can not have LASIK because their corneas are too thin or scarred. A healthy eye needs a certain amount of corneal thickness for the cornea to retain its strength and stability. For some patients, the cornea may not be thick enough for the surgeon to make the protective flap needed in the LASIK procedure. In such cases, Drs. Liu and Beers perform an “advanced surface ablation” treatment called LASEK.
Drs. Beers, Liu and Shahinian are widely recognized as experts in LASEK surgery. They have each given numerous talks about the benefits of LASEK and other surface treatments for people with thin corneas at national conferences. Dr. Shahinian teaches courses on LASEK at the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and has written several publications on the procedure. He established the Laser Vision Correction Program at Stanford University Medical Center and served as Program Director from 1993 to 1996.
How it Works
LASEK displaces the top superficial layer of the cornea called the epithelium. A painless alcohol-based solution is placed on the eye to loosen the epithelial cells, which are then removed in a thin sheet. This prepares the eye for the same VISX Wavefront™ Excimer laser treatment that is used in LASIK. After the laser treatment, the thin sheet of cells is carefully repositioned on the surface of the cornea.
Many doctors still perform the original PRK procedure which permanently removes the top layer of cells rather than repositioning them. It is the careful repositioning of the top layer of cells in LASEK that allows for a faster and more comfortable recovery compared to PRK.