Both surgeries use lasers to cut flaps in the cornea to correct its shape. Lasek (laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy) cuts only the outside surface of the cornea. This avoids some of the flap problems that can come with the deeper cut made during Lasik (laser in situ keratomileusis). But Lasek recovery is a bit longer, and there may be more pain after surgery.
Some doctors say Lasek is better. Others swear by Lasik.
Which is better? To find out, University of Illinois at Chicago researcher Dimitri Azar, M.D., and colleagues compared 122 eyes treated with Lasik to 122 eyes treated with Lasek.
"Both procedures seem safe, effective, and predictable," Azar says in a news release.
Eyes treated with Lasek ended up with slightly better vision. But the difference was too small for patients to notice.
"We found that although there were some differences ... that favor the Lasek procedure, the differences were not clinically significant," Azar says.
The findings appear in the December issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
SOURCES: Tobaigy, F.M. American Journal of Ophthalmology, December 2006; Vol. 142: pp. 901-908. News release, University of Illinois at Chicago.
By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D