Seeing the Difference: LASIK vs LASEK Explained

Vision is one of our five senses. And for many, corrective eye procedures provide clearer vision and freedom from glasses and contacts. Among the most common options are LASIK and LASEK. Here, you will find the specifics of each procedure, their differences, and which option could be right for you.

Doctors performing lasik surgery

What is LASIK?

LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) is a laser eye surgery used to correct issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK has a quick recovery time, with improved vision, often within hours. However, complete healing and maximum vision may take weeks.

Contrary to popular belief, it is relatively pain-free. Temporary risks may include dry eyes, halos, small patches of blood on the white of the eye, and light sensitivity.

What is LASEK?

LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis) is a similar laser eye surgery. However, this technique is more suited for patients with active lifestyles or with high-risk factors such as thin corneas or dry eye problems.

Recovery takes longer than LASIK and may include several days of discomfort.

LASIK vs LASEK: The Procedure


  • Pre-operative assessment
  • Surgery lasts around 15 minutes per eye.
  • Recovery is quick; sight is usually restored within a few days.


  • Pre-operative assessment
  • Surgery lasts about 5 minutes per eye.
  • Recovery is a little longer than LASIK and takes about two weeks.

Post-operative care for both procedures may include wearing eye protection, avoiding getting tap water in your eyes, and avoiding exercise and eye-rubbing until your eyes completely heal.

Similarities and Differences

Corrective Measures· bladeless surgery· laser used to reshape the cornea· bladeless surgery· thin, outer layer of the cornea removed before reshaping with a laser
Post-Op Expectations· prescription eye drops to prevent infection· possibly see the next day· four-12 weeks for complete healing and vision improvement· no contact sports or swimming for about two weeks· maintain follow-up appointments· prescription eye drops to prevent infection· functional vision returns in one-two weeks· eye irritation the first few days· four-12 weeks for complete healing and vision improvement· no contact sports or swimming for several weeks· maintain follow-up appointments
Ideal Candidates· stable vision prescriptions· healthy corneas· scarred or unhealthy corneas· uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension· dry eye issues· contact sports participants
Precision & Outcomes· more than 90% reach 20/20 vision· lasts a lifetime in most cases· can wear off with age· most achieve 20/20 vision· permanent vision correction· expected to last a lifetime· can wear off with age
Lifestyle Adjustments· bathing only (first few days)· no makeup for at least a week· no exercise the first few days· wear eye protection· avoid screens the first few days· no facial products for at least a week· driving within one to two weeks· no exercise the first few weeks· bathing only (first few days)· wear eye protection
Precautions & Long-Term Effects· dry eyes· halos· under- or over-correction· glare· double vision· light sensitivity· starbursts· dry eyes· hazy or cloudy vision· reduced vision in low light· eye irritation

While both LASIK and LASEK offer high success rates and satisfaction, consulting an eye care professional helps determine the best option for you.

If you are interested in laser eye surgery, please contact The Eye Center, with locations in Huntsville and Madison, at (256) 705-3937 to schedule your comprehensive eye exam.