LASEK vs. Lasik

What's the Difference?

LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) are both popular laser eye surgery procedures used to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. While they share the same goal of improving vision, there are some key differences between the two. LASEK involves the removal of the thin outer layer of the cornea, known as the epithelium, before reshaping the underlying corneal tissue with a laser. On the other hand, LASIK involves creating a flap in the cornea, lifting it, and then reshaping the corneal tissue. LASEK is generally recommended for patients with thinner corneas or those involved in contact sports, as it preserves more corneal tissue. LASIK, on the other hand, offers a faster recovery time and typically provides quicker visual improvement. Ultimately, the choice between LASEK and LASIK depends on individual factors and should be discussed with an eye care professional.


ProcedureLaser Epithelial KeratomileusisLaser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis
TypeSurface ablationFlap-based
Flap CreationEpithelial layer is preserved and repositionedCorneal flap is created and lifted
Recovery TimeLonger recovery timeQuicker recovery time
PainMild to moderate discomfortMinimal discomfort
Corneal ThicknessThinner corneal tissue is treatedThicker corneal tissue is treated
Visual RecoveryGradual improvement over several weeksRapid improvement within a few days
Corneal StabilityLess stable long-termMore stable long-term

Further Detail


When it comes to correcting vision problems, laser eye surgery has become a popular choice for many individuals. Two common procedures that are often recommended are LASEK (Laser-Assisted Subepithelial Keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). While both procedures aim to improve vision, they differ in terms of technique, recovery time, and suitability for certain individuals. In this article, we will compare the attributes of LASEK and LASIK to help you make an informed decision about which procedure may be right for you.


LASEK and LASIK are both laser eye surgeries, but they differ in the way the cornea is treated. In LASEK, the surgeon creates a thin flap of the epithelium, a protective layer of the cornea, using a special alcohol solution. The flap is then lifted to expose the underlying cornea, which is reshaped using an excimer laser. After the cornea is reshaped, the flap is repositioned and a soft contact lens is placed on the eye to aid in healing.

On the other hand, LASIK involves creating a flap in the cornea using a microkeratome or femtosecond laser. The flap is then lifted, and the underlying cornea is reshaped using an excimer laser. Once the cornea is reshaped, the flap is repositioned, and it adheres naturally without the need for stitches.

Recovery Time

One of the key differences between LASEK and LASIK is the recovery time. LASEK typically has a longer recovery period compared to LASIK. After LASEK, patients may experience discomfort, blurred vision, and light sensitivity for a few days to a week. The epithelial flap takes time to heal, and it may take several weeks for vision to stabilize. During the recovery period, patients are advised to avoid activities that may put strain on the eyes, such as swimming or contact sports.

On the other hand, LASIK offers a faster recovery time. Most patients experience improved vision within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Discomfort and sensitivity to light are usually minimal and subside quickly. Patients can typically resume their normal activities, including sports and swimming, within a few days after LASIK.


Another important factor to consider when choosing between LASEK and LASIK is suitability. LASEK is often recommended for individuals with thin corneas or those who are at a higher risk of complications with LASIK. Since LASEK does not involve creating a deep corneal flap, it preserves more corneal tissue, making it a better option for individuals with thinner corneas.

On the other hand, LASIK is generally suitable for a wider range of individuals. It is commonly performed on patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK can also correct higher degrees of refractive errors compared to LASEK. However, individuals with certain eye conditions, such as dry eyes or large pupils, may not be suitable candidates for LASIK.

Risks and Complications

Like any surgical procedure, both LASEK and LASIK carry some risks and potential complications. With LASEK, there is a slightly higher risk of developing haze or scarring on the cornea due to the longer healing process. However, advancements in technology have significantly reduced these risks. Other potential complications of LASEK include infection, dry eyes, and temporary or permanent changes in vision.

On the other hand, LASIK has a lower risk of haze or scarring due to the faster healing time. However, there is a small risk of flap complications, such as dislocation or wrinkling of the flap. In rare cases, LASIK can also cause dry eyes, glare, halos, or undercorrections or overcorrections of vision. It is important to discuss these risks with your surgeon before making a decision.


In summary, both LASEK and LASIK are effective laser eye surgery procedures that can correct vision problems. LASEK offers a safer option for individuals with thin corneas or higher risk factors, while LASIK is generally suitable for a wider range of patients. LASEK has a longer recovery time and a slightly higher risk of complications, but it preserves more corneal tissue. LASIK, on the other hand, provides a faster recovery time and a lower risk of certain complications. Ultimately, the choice between LASEK and LASIK should be made in consultation with an experienced eye surgeon, taking into consideration your individual needs, eye health, and lifestyle.

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