(Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis)
LASEK combines elements of the two procedures, LASIK and PRK. It offers many benefits to a certain group of patients with thin corneas who were told they were not good LASIK candidates. Unlike PRK, where the epithelium is removed, LASEK involves loosening the surface epithelium with a dilute solution and moving the epithelium to the side creating a flap. The Excimer laser then treats the layer immediately below the epithelium. The epithelial flap is then returned to its original position. A contact lens acting as a bandage is then placed over the cornea to allow for comfort and faster healing.
The advantage of the epithelial flap in LASEK allows for less post-operative discomfort as compared to PRK. There is also less chance for corneal haze and improved healing. The margin for safety is greater because there are no mechanical instruments to cause possibly more complications as compared to LASIK.
A thin corneal flap is created (right side of photo). This epithelial flap is gently rolled back, allowing the cornea to be reshaped by the excimer laser.