ADVANCED SURFACE ABLATION AND PHOTOREFRACTIVE KERATECTOMY (PRK)
Advanced Surface Ablation (ASA), also known as LASEK, is laser vision correction without making a flap. It represents a surgical advancement over photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), which was the original laser vision corrective procedure first approved by the FDA in 1995. ASA combines certain elements of both PRK and the more popular LASIK procedure and may offer some advantages over LASIK for certain patients.
With ASA, instead of completely removing the epithelium, as is done with PRK, the flap of surface epithelium is loosened with a diluted alcohol solution and moved to the side. The surface under the epithelium is treated with the Excimer Laser, and the epithelial flap is returned to its original position, similar to LASIK. A protective soft contact lens is then placed over the cornea to make the eye more comfortable as it heals.
Final visual results are similar when comparing LASIK and ASA. There are a few conditions where ASA is preferred, such as thin corneas, dry eye syndrome, and epithelial basement membrane dystrophy. There is a theoretical advantage in that there can be no flap complications such as flap displacement; however flap complications with LASIK are very uncommon. The disadvantages are that most patients experience some post-operative pain and a longer visual recovery time. Your doctor can discuss Advanced Surface Ablation with you during your consultation.