Laser eye surgery: Knowing the difference between LASIK and LASEK

09 May 2019

Author: Kate Green

What's the difference between LASIK and LASEK eye surgery?

Knowing the difference between LASIK and LASEK

When people talk about laser eye surgery, lots of them aren’t aware that there is more than one type available. We offer two at Optimax – LASIK and LASEK – and we’re going to discuss the variations between them, as well as identifying the different advantages for each. First, however, it’s important to note that the same lasers are used for LASIK and LASEK, both treatments cost £1,795 per eye at Optimax, and both produce outstanding results. Ultimately, our optometrists will recommend the best choice of treatment to you, but certain lifestyle factors can be vital in knowing whether LASIK or LASEK will work best for you.


Laser eye surgery reshapes your cornea – the front part of your eye – to rectify imperfections which prevent your eye from focusing effectively. LASIK and LASEK only treat the middle part of the cornea which means that the top layer has to be removed in order to reach it. LASIK and LASEK differ in how the top corneal layer is removed. With LASIK procedures, the top layer is lifted by a first laser and held back, creating a temporary lid effect, while the middle corneal layer receives treatment from a different, second laser. The top layer of the cornea is then gently placed back into the position it was before and left to heal.


With LASEK procedures, however, the surgeon places a dilute alcohol solution into the eye to soften the surface layer. Once this has been done, the top corneal layer can either be removed or gently moved to the side. This exposes the middle layer and the laser can be applied to it. The surgeon then places a bandage lens into the eye for protection, and to help the healing process, which is then removed at an aftercare appoint 3 to 5 days post-procedure.




Recovery time for LASIK is relatively quick as the process is minimally invasive. Most patients experience recovery within 24 to 48 hours, with lots of patients even going back to work the next day. With LASEK surgery, the recovery process is longer – between 1 and 2 weeks – as the cells that were either moved or removed to access the middle of the cornea must regrow and settle again.


Time away from any sports or activities is generally the same for both LASIK and LASEK patients, and all patients are given aftercare information packs detailing guidelines. One exception, however, is that LASEK patients are able to resume contact sports sooner than LASIK patients. This is because no flap is created and lifted in LASEK procedures – the cells are just softened and moved. This means that the cells regrow, creating a stronger join between the top and middle corneal layers. Our aftercare guidelines recommend that patients refrain from rigorous exercise for a month following both LASIK and LASEK treatment, so as not to increase the eye pressure or interfere with the healing process.


To summarise…


Benefits of LASIK:

  • Minimally invasive
  • Quick recovery period
  • Very minimal discomfort


Benefits of LASEK:

  • Reduced risk of dry eye
  • Can be used for thin corneas
  • Avoids corneal flap complications


Ultimately, both LASIK and LASEK produce outstanding results and the outcomes hardly vary at all. We decide which treatment you’re most suitable for based on a number of factors such as corneal thickness, involvement in contact sports, and line of work. Whichever treatment path is safest for you, and is most likely to produce the best result, is the one we’ll recommend for you. Get in touch with us today to discuss your options and book in for a free consultation. Whether it’s LASIK or LASEK, get the vision you deserve.

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