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LASIK vs. LASEK - What Is the Difference?

LASIK vs. LASEK - What Is the Difference?

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Laser vision correction has helped many patients over the past ten years see better without glasses or contact lenses. Dr. Jeffrey Martin, managing partner of North Shore Eye Care in Smithtown, New York in Long Island, feels fortunate to have been in practice during such a revolutionary period in the laser eye surgery field. Surgeons are now able to make flaps without blades and complete custom laser vision correction that is unique for each patient. There are two popular forms of laser vision correction, LASIK and advanced surface ablation.

In LASIK, we make a flap in the superficial layers of the cornea. At our Long Island LASIK practice, this flap is made by a laser called Intralase. The laser vision correction is customized to each individual patient's cornea much like each patient's fingerprint is unique. After the laser vision correction, the flap is placed back and the patient is able to drive the very next day, in most cases with excellent vision.

In surface ablation, sometimes called LASEK, the epithelium that is like the skin of the eye is peeled back and the custom laser vision correction ablation is placed right on the surface of the cornea. With LASEK, or other surface ablation procedures such as PRK, the healing is slower and there is usually more pain. However, the final visual result is equal to LASIK after a few weeks. Dr. Martin feels that surface ablation is safer in patients with thin corneas, irregular corneas, or high prescriptions, as well as patients with moderate dry eye. Some doctors do surface ablation on all of their patients, but Dr. Martin feels that the quick recovery of LASIK is advisable in patients that qualify for it. There is also the question of increased infection risk with surface ablation due to the longer healing time, but the infection risk is quite small with LASIK and surface ablation procedures.

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