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Have you been thinking about getting laser eye surgery and you’re now researching the procedure in more detail? There’s a lot of medical terminologies out there, and it can be a little bit confusing.  

What is the difference between LASIK and LASEK?

One of the questions you might have is the difference between the two types of laser eye treatment that we offer – LASIK and LASEK.  
We don’t blame you for the confusion; they’re almost the same word! Here’s a handy guide to give you the basics and help you make the best decision you’ve ever made – to get laser eye surgery. Of course, our clinic teams can take you through both procedures in more detail and recommend the most suitable treatment based on an individual assessment of your eyes. If you’d like to find out what procedure is right for you can schedule a consultation here 

In the video below, Optical Express optometrist Noelle Hamilton explains the difference between LASIK and LASEK: 


What is laser eye surgery?

To understand the difference between the two treatments, it would be helpful to know a bit more about the concept of laser eye surgery in general. 
Essentially, laser eye surgery refers to the process of reshaping the clear layer of your eye (known as the cornea) with a concentrated beam of light known as a laser. It’s often referred to as ‘surgery’, there are no incisions involved; what you’re really having is laser eye treatment. 
There are two laser eye treatment methods: LASIK and LASEK. The main difference between them is how your cornea is prepared to allow your treatment 
Laser eye surgery is the most popular elective treatment in the UK, here at Optical Express we’re the number one provider of this type of surgery in the UK by volume and experience.  

What is LASIK?

LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis. It’s been performed for over 25 years and it’s helped to improve the vision of millions of people in that time. Believe it or not, the treatment is considered so effective that NASA has even approved it for use on their astronauts. 
During LASIK treatment, the first laser will create a very thin protective flap on the clear layer of your eye (your cornea). This protective flap will then be lifted, and the second laser will then be used to correct your vision. Both eyes are usually treated on the same day. 
The recovery process is fairly quick and you should be able to drive and return to work within 24 hours of the treatment. Many people notice an immediate improvement in their vision but for others, it may take a few weeks for their vision to settle properly. 

What is LASEK?

LASEK stands for Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy. It’s a better choice if you have a thin cornea or a medical condition that makes laser eye surgery more challenging to complete. During the surgery, only one laser will be used to correct your vision— rather than the two that are used in LASIK. 
An alcohol solution is put on to the surface of your eye and an ultra-thin sheet applied. This alcohol solution loosens the thin layer of cells on your eye’s surface called the epithelium. These cells then stick to the sheet, which is then gently moved to the side of your eye, giving your surgeon access to the layer of your cornea which will be treated by the laser. 
After the laser has reshaped your cornea, a special protective contact lens will be put on your eye to increase your comfort whilst it heals. This lens is normally taken off after about four days. Like LASIK, both eyes can be treated on the same day. A lot of patients can see an immediate improvement in their vision, but it may take a number of days for your vision to settle. The recovery process can take slightly longer— usually a couple of weeks. The slightly longer recovery time of LASEK is a small compromise to make when it comes to correcting your vision for the long term with laser eye surgery— something that you wouldn’t be able to benefit from otherwise. 

Benefits of LASIK

  • Quick to complete
  • Fast recovery time— usually around 24 hours to a week
  • Suitable for the majority of people

Benefits of LASEK

  • Can correct the vision of people with thinner corneas or pre-existing medical conditions
  • A more effective option if you have higher levels of short-sightedness (myopia)

What is the difference between LASIK and LASEK?

The main difference is how the cornea is opened to allow access for the laser and the most appropriate method depends on the current thickness of your cornea. Therefore, the different procedure types suit different people. 
Sometimes the unique characteristics of your eye can make you unsuitable for LASIK treatment— for example, if you have a thin cornea. If you are unsuitable for LASIK treatment, you might be recommended LASEK treatment as an alternative. 
Only an eye care professional will be able to tell you what type of laser eye surgery you’re suited to. Both treatments provide exactly the same quality of results and both are as effective as each other. Not only that, but both offer the life-changing opportunity to see clearly without the need for glasses or contact lenses.  

If you want to find out what type of laser eye surgery you’re best suited to, please call one of our team on 0800 023 2020 or book your free consultation here. We look forward to hearing from you soon. 


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