LASEK or LASIK: Which One Is Best?

Laser eye surgery typically takes less than 15 to 20 minutes per eye

LASEK is an acronym for Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratomileusis, whereas LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis. Both surgeries are done for refractive error correction in patients suffering from myopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism, among other conditions. Let’s look at LASEK and LASIK in greater detail.

Similarities Between LASEK and LASIK

Both the procedures require extensive screening before the surgery. For optimum results, the age of patient should ideally be between 18 to 40 years. The cornea should be in a relatively stable and treatable condition, the pupil should not be very large, and eye moisture should be sufficient. Generally, LASEK is advised for older patients while LASIK eye surgery is done on younger patients. The patient should have normal blood pressure and sugar level should not exceed the limits. To control sugar and blood pressure level before the surgery, some
medication would be prescribed. A laser eye surgery requires not more than 15 to 20 minutes per eye.

In both the surgical procedures, excimer laser treatment is used and flap is repositioned after the surgery. In LASIK surgery, the flap is cut with a microkeratome (a kind of hinge) and in LASEK, the epithelial flap is created with a very thin knife (thinner than LASIK) or the butterfly technique is used. Both surgeries have similar risks such as astigmatism, double vision, dry eye syndrome, and so on.

Differences between LASEK and LASIK

The main difference between the two surgical procedures lies in the thickness of flap, which is the thickness of epithelial tissues in LASEK and corneal stroma tissues in LASIK laser eye surgery. Both the procedures require cleaning before the surgery; LASIK requires specialized cleaning and sterilization.

Generally, LASIK eye surgery is advised for patients who have vision problems due to more corneal tissues or younger patients who are dependent on glasses to see clearly. Elderly patients may opt for LASEK.

LASIK may be less painful in comparison to LASEK with a higher success rate. The patient may achieve 20/20 vision after the operation and get clear vision immediately upon completion of operation.

Patients having a thin cornea or flat cornea should opt for LASEK. There’s a minimum thickness level of tissues required to qualify for LASIK surgery. People with lower level of corneal tissues should opt for LASEK which provides better results.


Both the modes of treatment have short term and long term risks. Compared to LASIK, higher risks are found in LASEK treatment. LASIK, however, may not provide the desired results in some patients, and in some cases, it can even lead to astigmatism. LASEK has higher risk of dry eye, complications, and infections as compared to LASIK and it takes more time for recovery. After the operation, LASEK patients face a higher risk of trauma and they may suffer a flap dislodge if the eye is hit. In LASIK laser eye surgery, it usually takes about two to four
weeks for total recovery. In LASEK, it may take up to four to six months to recover completely. LASEK is more advanced than LASIK, but recommendations would be made according to the patient’s needs and
condition. It depends on the structure of eye and age of the patient. The patient should compare the procedure, time to heal, and cost before deciding between LASEK and LASIK.

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