Ashfield Eye Clinic, Ashfield, NSW

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I’m confused between "LASIK" and the newer term, "LASEK". What is the difference between the two procedures?

LASEK is, technically speaking, the original surgical technique known as "PRK" – a technique which was the forerunner of LASIK.

LASEK is also known as Advanced Surface Laser (ASL) or Epi-LASIK, and features further technological and surgical advancements on the original PRK.

A non-invasive version of corrective surgery (i.e. it does not involve cutting a flap), it offers several advantages in terms of safety profile, reproducibility and quality of visual result – although with the trade-off of a slightly longer recovery time.

The discomfort which used to be associated with this condition no longer occurs due to refinements in the application of this technology.

Which is the best vision correction procedure for me?

You can be given a conclusive answer only after your eyes are examined by your LASIK surgeon.

Some refractive errors, along with certain eye types are not suitable for LASIK, although they may be suited to other refractive modalities like LASEK or PRK.

LASIK-unsuitable conditions include acute astigmatism, keratoconus, the presence of cataract and intra-ocular lens implementation (a condition whereby the corneal tissue is warped). Also, natural ageing of the eye (presbyopia) often brings with it the need for glasses at around the age of 45. LASIK cannot correct or avert this natural ageing process.

Alternatively, your corneas maybe too thin for the cutting of a corneal flap (under which the laser beam is applied). Or you may be within the refractive range whereby it is possible to achieve the desired outcome without the extra step of cutting a corneal flap. Also, sometimes the less invasive LASEK method is preferred for enhancements.

Meantime, as well as the nature of the refractive error of your eyes, your surgeon must also consider your occupation, sports, social and other visual needs (or requirements).


  • You must be 18 years of age or over.
  • Your vision and prescription must have been stable for at least a year before undergoing the procedure.
  • You must be free of eye diseases or other complicating factors.
  • You must not be pregnant or breastfeeding.

Will I be able to throw my glasses or contact lenses away following the laser procedure?

For the vast majority of patients treated, LASIK or LASEK mean freedom from glasses and contact lenses, or a dramatic reduction in reliance on intrusive optical aids.

Some patients, however, may find they still require their glasses or contact lenses – or a reduced prescription – for certain activities like reading or driving.

In almost every instance, the remarkable improvement in quality of vision is permanent.

Is it possible to experience complications during, or as a result of, LASIK or LASEK?

LASIK and LASEK are both surgical procedures.

Whilst complications are rare (reported as less than one percent worldwide), as with any surgery, the risk of complication does exist.

Can both my eyes be treated in the same visit?

Generally, yes, but this will be determined at either your initial or subsequent consultations.

How long does recovery take after surgery?

You'll be at the surgery centre for up to two hours, preparing beforehand, and relaxing afterwards. We require you to stay at the surgery centre for about 15 minutes after your procedure, or until Dr Den is satisfied that you are ready to leave.

Although improvement often begins to become noticeable immediately, you will nonetheless need someone to collect you and drive you home from the centre. It is preferable to have someone stay overnight with you and to organise a couple of days off work.

With LASIK, recovery after the procedure is particularly rapid, with driving vision attained within 48 hours. With LASEK, driving vision is attained in about four or five days.

How long does the actual procedure itself take?

The procedure itself takes around 15 minutes per eye, although you'll be at the surgery centre for around two hours in total, preparing beforehand, and relaxing afterwards.

Is laser treatment (either LASIK or LASEK) painful?

Both LASIK and LASEK are, today, almost pain-free.

With either, the use of anaesthetic eye drops ensures that, in the vast majority of cases, all that is felt is a slight sensation of pressure, which lasts for about 20 or 30 seconds.

At each stage, Dr Den explains what is about to happen, talking you through the procedure as it progresses.

What happens if I move my eyes during the laser treatment?

The tracker system locks onto the fixation line of the eye like a guided missile system and rapidly realigns the laser beam to any drift of the eyes or rapid eye movement, so that the ablation profile remains perfectly centred.