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Understanding the Difference Between LASIK and LASEK

Understanding the Difference Between LASIK and LASEK

When first introduced, corrective eye surgery seemed too good to be true. Using lasers to reshape the cornea was an intimidating concept, and many people were unsure. Years of great results have banished fears, however. Now, with two safe and reputable laser procedures to choose from, more and more people are opting for corrective vision surgery. 

Dr. Michael Ragen, ophthalmologist at Ventura Eye Institute in Camarillo, California, offers both LASIK and LASEK procedures for patients hoping to permanently improve their vision through laser technology.

Understanding laser eye surgery 

Before getting into the finer details separating LASIK and LASEK, it’s important to understand why correction is necessary in the first place. 

Your cornea is a dome of clear tissue that refracts light back into the retina. There, it’s turned into electrical signals and fed to the brain through the optic nerve. However, if the cornea is misshapen, it can lead to refractive errors, including: 

Laser eye surgery is used to correct refractive errors at the source, reducing and sometimes eliminating the need for glasses and contacts. 


LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. While it has crude origins dating back to the late 1940s, the LASIK we know today was approved by the FDA in 1999. At first, the cornea was reshaped using a scalpel, but a human hand can only be so stable. Lasers were introduced as an alternative, and LASIK was born. 

Two types of lasers are used during LASIK: a femtosecond laser cuts a flap into the cornea, while an excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea beneath. Over the past twenty years, LASIK has evolved and gained a reputation as a safe, reliable procedure. 

LASEK, or laser epithelial keratomileusis is much newer, but it has quickly garnered a popular reputation. Often considered the sister surgery to LASIK, LASEK involves a more delicate and difficult process. 

Instead of cutting the eye, a mild medicine is used to lift the outer layer of the cornea, called the epithelium. Then, a guided laser reshapes the cornea beneath, and the epithelium is placed back on. 

Deciding which is right for you

When performed correctly, LASEK uses the most cutting-edge technology and technique to correct the cornea with minimal damage. However, it requires a surgeon of greater skill and experience. 

Dr. Ragen is known for pioneering the use of LASEK, performing more LASEK surgeries than 99% of other doctors in the United States. Many of his patients opt for LASEK because it can provide better quality of vision, and the risk of complications is lower. 

To learn more about LASIK and LASEK, visit Ventura Eye Institute today. Call our Camarillo, California, office or book your appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Ragen, Dr. Kyle Huynh, and the team here on our website. 

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