LASEK surgery still makes the small flap along the cornea however it makes a much smaller cut. This type of surgery is usually used when the diameter of the cornea is too thick to have a flap made in it with LASIK surgery. Another difference between LASIK surgery and LASEK is that the former uses a laser to make the flap while LASEK uses a special cutting tool known as a trephine.
A laser eye surgeon will use a local anaesthetic before cutting the epithelium, which is the surface of the cornea. They will make this incision using the trephine. Once the cut is made, it can then be soaked with alcohol which will loosen the edges of the epithelium; it only needs to be soaked with alcohol for about thirty seconds and does not cause any pain. Once the epithelium has loosened, the surgeon will then peel it back and use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. The epithelial flap is then gently placed back with a spatula-like tool.
It’s thought that recovery time from LASEK surgery is slower than recovery time for LASIK; and the full effects of the surgery may not be felt for four to seven days after the surgery. Recovery from LASEK surgery has been said to be a bit more painful than LASIK surgery, which may account for the irritability some patients feel for the first day or two after surgery. The flap usually heals within a day after the surgery but a protective contact lens is worn for four days to keep the eye protected.