“ASLA, also known as PRK, has the same results as LASIK, however, there is no flap created. This is why it is the procedure recommended for people with thinner than normal corneas.”
Dr Colin Chan and Professor Gerard Sutton explain this form of laser vision correction.
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Around 5% of people have thin or slightly irregular corneas. This makes absolutely no difference to their everyday life, and in fact, they won’t even know about it unless they book an assessment for laser eye surgery.
However, the thinness of the cornea means that LASIK, which involves creating a flap, raising it then placing it back down, is not a realistic procedure for them. ASLA (Advanced Surface Laser) is a surface laser procedure. The results of both LASIK and ASLA are the same, but there is no flap created during ASLA.
Even though no flap is created, the surgeon still needs access to the corneal bed in order to reshape it. Instead of the femtosecond laser, a few drops of a solution are placed on the clear surface of the eye – this softens the corneal epithelium cells and allows them to be gently removed.
With the corneal bed now accessible, the excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea. A bandage contact lens is placed on the eye to assist with healing.
In fact, the excimer laser itself has always remained the one ‘constant’ in laser eye surgery. Through the years, advances in technology have brought the excimer laser to where it is today – performing with the highest level of safety, efficacy and predictability.
Because the surface cells of the cornea have been dissolved, the cells need time to regenerate. There will be discomfort for a few days after the procedure and vision will fluctuate for around a month. However, once the cells regenerate, patients can expect the same visual result as would be achieved with LASIK. (For more information, read ‘Recovery tips’).