Surface ablation refers to a group of procedures that involve the use of a laser called the excimer laser to treat the surface of the cornea to correct:
Advanced surface ablation procedures include:
LASEK and more recently TransPRK are the more commonly performed advanced surface ablation procedures performed today and are the surface ablation procedures of choice at Dr Cordelia Chan’s practice. They are excellent alternatives to LASIK or SMILE, especially in cases where the cornea is too thin for correction by these procedures.
This is how LASEK is performed, and the points to note:
A video showing how LASEK is performed. The surface skin (epithelium) of the cornea is gently removed and the excimer laser applied to alter the shape of the cornea. The white sponge applied contains the special chemical called mitomycin C to reduce the incidence of cornea haze after surgery.
The goal of LASEK is to improve your vision and to reduce your dependence on spectacles or contact lenses. Most individuals may be able to be fully independent of glasses or contact lenses, but if you are beyond 45 years of age and require glasses for reading (a condition called presbyopia), you will probably still need your reading glasses after LASEK.
Generally, visual recovery after LASEK is slightly slower than after LASIK or SMILE. Discomfort or pain is usually more intense and prolonged. When the effect of the anaesthetic eyedrops wears off, most patients will experience pain, tearing, burning sensation, scratchiness and / or difficulty opening their eyes, the severity of which varies from patient to patient. These symptoms usually last for 2-3 days. You will be prescribed antibiotic and steroid eyedrops as well as artificial tears to keep the eyes moist, and painkillers to cope with the pain after surgery the first few days.
Although the visual recovery from LASEK is slightly slower than that of LASIK and SMILE, the long-term outcomes are the same. LASEK is also a very rewarding procedure for the patient and the surgeon!
LASEK has side effects that you need to aware of, but fortunately, LASEK is very safe and most of the side effects are mild and temporary. These include pain after surgery (as described above), redness, dry eye, haze or fine scarring of the cornea, fluctuating vision, haloes, glare, starbursts and light sensitivity. Over- or under-correction may occur, and additional surgery may be required in some cases. The serious side-effects that can result in permanent loss of vision eg infection, are fortunately rare. Weakening of the cornea (keratectasia) after LASEK is also very rare.
Depending on the individual’s healing response towards the excimer laser, the cornea may show variable degrees of scarring or haze which can affect quality of vision. This is usually more frequently seen with higher degrees of correction. In most cases, this haze is treatable with topical steroids and does not usually affect the final quality of vision.