LASEK vs LASIK

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LASEK vs LASIK

If you’ve decided you want to enjoy all the benefits of improved vision, you may be wondering which type of laser eye surgery is best suited for you. LASIK and LASEK are the most common types of laser eye procedure we perform at Moorfields Private. With this handy guide, you can understand the difference between LASIK and LASEK, with our expert consultants offering further guidance on which procedure is most suitable for you.

Before your LASEK or LASIK eye treatment

If you choose to get LASEK or LASIK in London with Moorfields Private, you can choose from our world-renowned specialist consultant eye surgeons, who will deliver care throughout your treatment pathway. You will meet your surgeon during your initial consultation, which will take between 1-2 hours.

During this time, your eyes will be scanned, tested and eye drops will be administered. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your suitability for the procedure, the potential risks and benefits with your surgeon.

Following your consultation, your surgery will be booked in at a time that suits you.

What is LASIK eye surgery?

LASIK surgery is the most commonly performed type of laser eye surgery. The procedure involves reshaping the cornea to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism. The surgery takes approximately 15 minutes and is pain-free.

Local anaesthetic drops will numb your eye completely before the procedure. Your surgeon will then use two different types of laser. The first one is a femtosecond laser which creates a thin protective flap in the cornea. It does this by tracing a 3D pattern of small gas bubbles within the corneal tissue. During this part of the procedure, lasting less than minute, patients may experience pressure on their eye.

The surgeon will then lift back this hinged layer and use an excimer laser to reshape the underlying tissue to correct the focus of the eye. The hinged layer is then smoothed back without the need for stitches. The procedure is typically complete within 15 minutes for both eyes with little if any discomfort.

After LASIK treatment

Following LASIK surgery, you may experience between 4-6 hours of discomfort. Your surgeon will advise you on aftercare and provide you with any take-home medication. You should rest your eyes, limit screen time in the first 24 hours after your surgery and avoiding rubbing them. You may be provided with a pair of protective googles to wear the first night.

If you are driving to your appointment, you will need to arrange someone else to drive you home. You will not be able to drive until your surgeon confirms your vision meets the legal driving standard in your post-operative consultation, typically scheduled the following day.

What is LASEK eye surgery?

LASEK surgery is a surface laser treatment which is performed on the surface of the cornea. This makes it a more suitable option than LASIK for patients with thin corneas or certain medical conditions.

Eye-drop anaesthetic is administered to ensure the procedure is painless and dilute alcohol is applied to the eye to help loosen the top skin layer (epithelium) which is then brushed away by the surgeon. Unlike LASIK, only the excimer laser is used to reshape the corneal tissue. The whole process should take around 10 minutes for both eyes.

Once the surgeon has completed the laser treatment, a special contact lens will be applied to help protect the eye and increase your comfort during the recovery process. This will be removed towards the end of the first week after surgery.

After LASEK surgery

For the first 24 hours after LASEK treatment, patients may experience moderate discomfort in their eye and sensitivity to light. This is normal and your surgeon will prescribe painkilling drops and tablets to help during this period. You will also be instructed to take antibiotic and steroid drops to aid with the healing.

It takes around a week for the surface skin layer (epithelium) to heal. Initially you can expect your vision to be blurred, with improvements typically noticeable from mid-way through the first week. The full LASEK recovery process takes several weeks as the surface of the eyes becomes smoother and the vision stabilises. Most patients need to take a week off work after LASEK.

You can return home after your LASEK treatment but, just as with LASIK, you will need to arrange transportation home from the appointment, as you will not be able to drive until your vision meets the legal driving standard.

We use the latest laser eye surgery technology

At Moorfields Private our eye laser technology is reviewed and updated every three years, allowing us to frequently upgrade the excimer laser and femtosecond laser equipment we use.

Since Moorfields started offering refractive surgery in the late 1990s, our focus has always been to deliver the best treatment experience led by knowledgeable surgeons and performed with the most cutting-edge technology available. Over the years, technological advancements have resulted in ever safer and more accurate treatments, with improved vision results.

Reasons to choose Moorfields Private

At Moorfields Private, we pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality of care to our patients. This includes working with the finest surgeons in the country and using the most advanced refractive laser equipment for our laser eye surgery procedures. We renew this technology every three years to ensure the best accuracy.

You’ll also be able to choose your own surgeon from our wide choice of consultants, who are working at the top of their profession. Your surgeon will supervise you at every stage of your treatment, delivering a service with complete continuity.

Should I choose LASIK or LASEK eye surgery?

LASIK and LASEK both use excimer lasers to reshape part of the cornea to correct long-sightedness, short-sightedness and astigmatism. Both will achieve the same final vision result, but the recovery differs between these two procedures.

The benefit of LASIK is the shorter healing time than a surface laser treatment like LASEK. This is because, during LASEK surgery, the surgeon needs to remove the surface skin layer at the front of the eye to reshape the tissue beneath. This is then regrows over a period of a week or so during which your vision gradually improves.

Transepithelial PRK (TransPRK), a newer version of LASEK, is a ‘no-touch’ technique for surface laser treatments in which the laser light is applied directly to the surface of the eye without the need to remove the surface layer manually. TransPRK treatments are quicker than LASEK, with both eyes completed in under 10 minutes. Vision recovery after LASEK or TransPRK is slower compared with LASIK, and the first 24 hours can be painful.

Who is suitable for LASEK and LASIK eye surgery?

Most people are suitable for LASIK surgery but some may find they are not due to pre-existing conditions or unique characteristics of their eye. LASEK may be recommended for those with pre-existing medical conditions, thinner corneas, or higher prescriptions for short-sightedness. Your surgeon will discuss your options with you during your initial consultation.

As a general guide, to be suitable for LASIK, you should;

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a stable prescription and healthy eyes
  • Be in general good health, and not suffering from conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts or a herpes infection in the eye
  • Not be pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Not be taking certain prescription drugs, which your consultant surgeon will discuss with you

Your prescription should be;

  • Up to +3 to +4 if you are long-sighted
  • Up to -10 if you are short-sighted
  • Up to -6D if you have astigmatism

How much does LASEK and LASIK eye surgery cost?

If you’re considering getting LASIK or LASEK surgery with Moorfields Private, you may find it to be more affordable than you think.

Fees for your initial consultation are charged at £175. Once you have agreed a personalised plan with your consultant, the full costs will be £4,500 for both eyes, which includes post-operative eye drops to take home on the day of surgery, follow-up assessments for two years and any further laser eye surgery treatment within two years if required. Moorfields Private provides the highest quality of care and most advanced refractive laser equipment available.

For further information

For more information on laser eye surgery, check out our blogs on the most common questions we get asked:

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LASEK vs LASIK consultants

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Mr Julian Stevens


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Mr Bruce Allan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Mr Daniel Gore


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Miss Linda Ficker


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Mr Martin Watson


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Mr Romesh Angunawela


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis


Consultant Ophthalmologist

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Mr Alexander Ionides


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Mr Alex Day


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Professor David Gartry


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Mr Mark Wilkins


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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Mr Vincenzo Maurino


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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