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EyeSearch Eye Care Guide

Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis is a variant of excimer laser photorefractive keratectomy. (see PRK)


Although LASIK is a newer procedure, it is becoming much more common as surgical techniques and instruments improve. 

The primary difference between LASIK and PRK is that prior to the use of the laser to change the shape of the cornea, a machine called a microkeratome is used to create a thin flap of cornea which is folded back, and the laser treatment is then performed under this flap.

Microkeratome on the Eye

Lasik Flap This provides similarly effective correction of visual problems, as the change in the shape of the cornea still takes place, but deeper within the corneal tissue.

Because the surface layer of the cornea is not removed, a protective contact lens is generally not necessary after LASIK.

Lasik Corrective Vision Surgery

Lasik Close

There is generally less postoperative discomfort, because the eye's natural surface is returned to its original position after the laser treatment is done. 

 Visual recovery is usually faster as well, because the surface layer of the eye does not need to reheal after being removed as it does in PRK .  Some patients and surgeons prefer LASIK to PRK because of these advantages of less discomfort and more rapid visual recovery.  Eyedrops are still used, but often for a shorter period of time.

The primary potential disadvantage of LASIK is the slight increased risk of complications due to problems with the microkeratome or the process of cutting the corneal flap.  Should the flap be too shallow or too deep, or come loose from its attachment to the cornea, surgery may have to be discontinued, and in some cases the possibility of permanent scarring in the cornea may result.  As the microkeratome technique has improved, these complications have become less common and the advantages may often outweigh this potential problem. However, this kind of complication does not occur in PRK, because no flap is created.

LASIK does offer significant advantages for those patients with high degrees of nearsightedness, because the risk of scarring with PRK increases when large amounts of tissue must be removed from the cornea.  While LASIK does not eliminate this scarring entirely, it tends to be much less common when the laser treatment is performed deeper within the cornea as it is in LASIK.

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Last Updated on Saturday, July 29, 2000 06:05:56 PM