North County Laser Eye Associates

What is the difference between ASA and LASIK? – Carlsbad CA LASIK office

What is the difference between ASA and LASIK? – Carlsbad CA LASIK office

Many people who wear corrective lenses (whether glasses or contacts) would like to be free of these. Most are aware that laser eye surgery is a method of correcting vision, reducing or eliminating the need for corrective lenses. However, not everyone is aware that there are different types of laser eye surgery. Different types are right for different people. At our Carlsbad CA LASIK office, we frequently get questions about this topic.

What is LASIK?

With LASIK, a laser is used to reshape the stroma, or inner tissue, of the cornea. A corneal flap is created. Originally, this was done with a blade, but the newer forms of LASIK use a laser to create the corneal flap. Once this flap is folded back, the stroma of the cornea is exposed. The laser is used to reshape the corneal stroma, and then the flap is replaced back over the cornea.

After LASIK, the eye heals very quickly. Many patients notice an improvement in their vision within the first day after the procedure. Although healing can continue over the following three to six months, most patients are able to return to their normal activities the day after having LASIK.

How is ASA different from LASIK?

With advanced surface ablation, or ASA, the cornea is still reshaped with a laser. The difference is in the part of the cornea that is altered through the procedure. Rather than the middle part of the cornea, ASA affects the surface of the cornea. The epithelium, or outer layer of cells, is removed from the cornea. The laser is then used to reshape the cornea. The epithelium will later grow back over the cornea. This type of tissue is very capable of healing, much as cut or scraped skin will heal completely.

With ASA, healing is a little bit slower than with LASIK. Most patients take about four days to see clearly enough to return to normal activities. This is the time it takes for the epithelium to grow back over the cornea. During the healing process, you will need to wear a contact lens, to protect the cornea while the epithelium grows back. This is known as a “bandage contact lens,” and is simply a soft contact lens with no prescription in it. Your eye surgeon will put this contact lens on at the end of your procedure, and will remove it after a few days, when the epithelium has healed. Patients do experience some discomfort of the eye during this healing process, though it usually isn’t bad enough to require oral pain medications.

ASA is also known by other names, including photorefractive keratectomy or PRK.

How should you choose ASA or LASIK?

A great deal of research has gone into both of these procedures over the past few decades. As a result, both ASA and LASIK are effective and safe procedures, and most patients have good results with either one. The end results of either procedure are comparable.

The main advantage of LASIK is that recovery is faster. Most patients can return to normal activities within a day of the procedure, and discomfort is minor and short-lived. With ASA, it takes a few days to return to normal activities, and there is more discomfort (although it’s still not severe).

Some patients are not good candidates for LASIK. Those with thinner corneas, and those with certain abnormal shapes of the cornea, should choose ASA over LASIK. Additionally, people who might experience minor trauma to the eye, such as athletes playing certain sports, may want to choose ASA. This is because any movement of the corneal flap that is created during the LASIK procedure can cause complications, so it’s very important that there be no trauma to the eye during the healing process.

Carlsbad CA LASIK office

Patients at our Carlsbad CA LASIK office will discuss their options with one of our eye surgeons. After a thorough examination and taking measurements of your cornea, your surgeon will be able to make recommendations about which type of laser eye surgery would be the best option for you.

In many cases, you’ll be a good candidate for either LASIK or ASA. In this case, you’ll decide which one you prefer based on your own values and preferences.