Flapless LASIK is a term used for any laser vision correction procedure that does not involve the creation of a corneal flap. The flap has been found to be the root cause of most LASIK-related complications, so removing it increases the safety of the procedure and eliminates many risks. This procedure is also commonly known as PRK.
BenefitsFor many Los Angeles patients, flapless LASIK carries a number of appealing benefits, including:
Reduced risk of short- and long-term complicationsExtremely safe and effective way to improve visionSuitable option for patients with thin corneas
With that said, there are some drawbacks. For example, flapless LASIK is associated with a longer recovery period and increased temporary post-operative discomfort when compared to the traditional approach.
Flapless LASIK procedures
Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)
When this procedure was designed, it was the first alternative to traditional LASIK surgery. It involves using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea, ensuring light can enter the eye properly and project clear images onto the retina. Instead of creating a flap, your surgeon will remove a small portion of the surface epithelium to access and reshape the surface of your cornea. After the procedure, he will apply a bandage contact lens to be worn for about a week as the surface of your eye heals.
PRK is ideal for treating many cases of nearsightedness, and can be appropriate for some patients that are not candidates for LASIK in Los Angeles. However, the recovery time is longer. Most patients experience mild discomfort for about three days, along with blurry vision and dry eyes for the first few weeks. In addition, it can take up to three months to notice an improvement in your vision and six months for your vision to completely stabilize, while LASIK delivers results in less than a month.
This approach is ideal to treat astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness, and can be appropriate for patients that are not candidates for LASIK. The only drawback is that PRK recovery is slightly longer. It could take a couple of weeks before your eyesight improves, and as many as six months until your vision is completely stable.
Advanced Surface Treatment (AST)
This procedure is also known as Epi-LASIK. To begin, your surgeon will separate the epithelium from the rest of the cornea using an instrument called an epikeratome. Technically, he is still creating a flap – just a much thinner one when compared to the traditional LASIK approach. He will then reshape the surface of your cornea to improve your vision, before replacing the epithelium and covering your eye with a protective lens that should be worn for about one week as you heal.
In terms of recovery, you can expect a longer process than LASIK. Your final vision can take up to six months to emerge, and you will need to wait about a week before driving. During this initial healing process, some pain is to be expected, and you will be provided with prescription medication to help you manage the discomfort.