Also known as ASA - Advanced Surface Ablation
LASEK is a technique where the excimer laser is used to treat the surface of the cornea without the need to cut a flap.
The corneal epithelium (outer surface) is softened by the application of an alcohol solution. The epithelium is then carefully folded away from the middle corneal layer to allow the laser treatment to be applied. As with LASIK the amount of treatment given depends upon your individual prescription.
Following treatment the epithelium is replaced to allow healing that is quicker and more comfortable than the original PRK procedure, but takes longer than LASIK. At the end of the procedure a soft contact lens known as a ‘bandage lens’ is fitted on the corneal surface. This has a dual role of protecting the corneal epithelium while it heals, and also reduces but does not eliminate discomfort. The bandage lens stays in place for up to a week, depending on how quickly your eye heals.
Following LASEK, the improved vision is not appreciated until the epithelium has fully healed, usually in about a week. The eye may also be uncomfortable over this time and for the first day or two may be painful.
Although the vast majority of patients achieve outstanding results without complications, it should not be forgotten that LASEK is however a surgical procedure. As with all surgical procedures there are risks associated with treatment. One particular risk associated with LASEK is that of “Haze”, or an aggressive healing response. Where appropriate, we would aim to use a potent anti-scarring agent (applied at a very low concentration and for a very short duration) to reduce the chances of haze occurring.
LASEK may be the preferred procedure for some patients with low refractive errors, thin corneas and specific lifestyle issues. We will discuss whether or not LASEK is a suitable procedure for you during your assessment with us.
(ADVANCED SURFACE ABLATION)
What is the success rate of LASEK?
The goal of LASEK is to reduce your dependence on your glasses or contact lenses. At least 95% of LASEK procedures, performed on patients with a suitable prescription, result in you reaching the legal driving standard without glasses or contacts, ie 6/12 or better. Our goal is to try to achieve the best possible vision for you. It is important you understand that results may vary for many reasons and are influenced by your prescription and your corneal thickness. 75% of patients achieve even better results: 6/6 (20/20) vision.
Following treatment 25% of patients may require glasses occasionally, usually only for detailed distance vision such as driving. Older patients will require reading glasses due to presbyopia which cannot be treated with LASEK.
Does LASEK hurt?
LASEK itself is a virtually painless procedure. Anaesthetic drops are used to numb the eye and most patients state there is no pain. However, there is usually some discomfort after the procedure, which ranges from mild irritation to severe pain with tearing and blurred vision. Drops and tablets are provided to take the edge off this discomfort, which tends to settle quickly, over the first 3-4 days.
Is LASEK safe?
Since 1988, more than 11 million excimer laser procedures have been performed worldwide. Laser vision correction is projected to become the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the world.
Although the vast majority of patients achieve outstanding results without complications, it should not be forgotten that LASEK is however a surgical procedure. As with all surgical procedures there are risks associated with treatment.
The most common risks include:
- LASEK can be associated with dryness of the eyes and most patients require tear drops for a few months after treatment. It is rare for tear supplements to be required long term.
- Glare and halos around lights are seen by some patients post-operatively. They do not usually interfere with driving and in most cases resolve within the first 6 months.
- Under or over correction occurs when a patient’s individual healing response varies from the average for their age and sex. This is more likely to occur in the correction of higher degrees of short or long sightedness.
- Reduction of vision, even with glasses or contact lenses, can result following all forms of laser surgery. This may be due to inflammation or infection of the cornea after treatment, or because of irregular healing or scarring of the cornea. Severe visual loss is rare but in extreme cases patients have required corneal transplants following treatment.
Am I a suitable candidate for LASEK?
Generally speaking, the ideal LASEK candidate is over 21 years of age and has healthy eyes and normal corneas with no significant change in their spectacle prescription in the last 2 to 3 years. Certain medical conditions make people unsuitable candidates. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should allow several months after giving birth or ceasing breastfeeding before having treatment. Some patients who are not suitable for LASEK are suitable for LASIK and this will be discussed with you.
Should I have both eyes treated at the same time?
Many people find it more convenient to have both eyes treated together but there are advantages and disadvantages to this which will be fully explained at your assessment. Patients who do opt for unilateral surgery need to wait until one eye has fully healed before undergoing surgery on the 2nd eye and in these cases we recommend at least 1 month between treatments. Unilateral treatment is best suited for patients with low refractive errors who are able to tolerate uncorrected vision in one eye or those who can wear a soft contact lens in the untreated eye. Patients with moderate or high refractive errors who are unable to wear lenses, often find the interval between treatment sessions difficult to tolerate.
Following the consultation with your surgeon you can make an individual decision on which option is best for you.
I have been told I am unsuitable for laser vision correction. Are there any other refractive surgery procedures?
Yes. Although laser vision correction is the most widely publicised, there are other refractive techniques that have been successfully performed for years by Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeons in the UK and internationally. As these procedures involve surgery inside the eye (intra-ocular surgery), they may be a little more complex.
Khalid Ikram is trained and skilled in PRELEX, Clear Lens Exchange, Implantable Contact Lenses, LASIK and LASEK. To find out which procedure would be best suited for your individual eyes and lifestyle, please book an appointment with Mr Ikram, your Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon.
Why should I choose you to perform my LASEK?
Laser vision correction, although quick and virtually painless is nevertheless a form of eye surgery. Mr Ikram is a locally based surgeon who is an accredited Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon working both in the NHS and independently.
To reach Consultant level he has undergone years of extensive training in the UK (a training program which is regarded internationally as one of the most comprehensive in the world). Mr Ikram has experience in all aspects of eye surgery, not just LASEK, so you can be sure that the treatment given will be the most appropriate to your individual eyes.
We have an outstanding track record of results and long-term reputation to maintain. You can be assured that you will receive the most dedicated care, as a private outpatient, with all the benefits of a high quality private facility.