Laser Assisted Epithelial Keratomileusis, or LASEK as it's commonly known, is a laser refractive procedure designed to correct short sightedness, long sightedness and astigmatism. LASEK is the ideal procedure in cases where the cornea that is too thin or too steep.
It is very similar to the older PRK eye correction procedures expect that with LASEK, the outer layer of the cornea is retained. This is more desirable as fewer complications are likely.
Lasek eye correction will begin with local anaesthetic drops being placed in your eyes. A special instrument is used to loosen the epithelium around the surgery area, which is then pushed to the side to allow access to the middle cornea. A laser is then used to reshape your cornea without disturbing the surrounding tissue. Once the desired correction has been achieved, the eye surgeon smoothes the epithelium back into place, before applying a contact lens bandage.
The three main differences between the LASEK procedure and the common LAISIK treatment are as follows:
- LASEK surgery involves placing a medicinal alcohol to treat the top layer of cornea cells whereas LASIK does not.
- Unlike LASIK, LASEK does not use a microkeratome, therefore avoiding potentially serious flap complications
- LASEK requires a contact lens as a bandage after surgery whereas LASIK requires no stitches or bandages.
Risks and side effects
Patients choosing to have the LASEK procedure may experience a little more discomfort during the operation than with other forms of laser surgery. However, this is still no more than mild pain, and shouldn't be a problem for most people. And as with all forms of laser eye correction, there is the possibility of side effects and complications such as infections, thinning of the cornea, visual abnormalities, and unsuccessful treatment.
Cost and prices
In the UK, you can expect to pay in the region of £400 to £800 per eye for standard LASEK treatment. Prices for more complex or advanced forms of the procedure will cost significantly more. The treatment costs up to 40% less is countries such as India and Tunisia, although you will need to factor in the cost of travel and accommodation.
NHS, private or abroad
As with most forms of laser eye correction, Lasek is rarely available in the NHS. The NHS does not consider short sightedness, long sightedness and astigmatism as serious health risks. However, you can have Lasek eyesight correction in a growing number of private clinics both in the UK and abroad. A whole host of countries now provide the treatment including Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, India, and most European states.
Recommended eye clinics in the UK
Common Eyesight Questions
What questions should I ask my lasik eye surgeon?
What are the possible side effects after a laser eye operation?