Alternatives to LASIK: What is Advanced Surface Ablation?

April 15, 2015

Many people are under the impression that there is only one type of laser vision correction. However, this is not the case. Depending on the condition of your eyes it may be best for you to get LASIK or advanced surface ablation (ASA). So what’s the difference? We’re glad you asked!


PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was the first type of laser vision correction surgery approved in the U.S. and was used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. Advanced surface ablation is a more recent variation of PRK. ASA may be a great option for those who have been told that they are not an ideal candidate for LASIK due to thin corneas, having problems with dry eyes or being involved in certain contact sports.

What is Advanced Surface Ablation?
Advanced surface ablation uses the same modern technology as iLASIK except there is no corneal flap created at the beginning of the surgery. Instead, a “well” is placed on the cornea which is then filled with a diluted alcohol solution. After this step, the outer layer of corneal skin cells is moved to expose a secondary layer of cells. This layer is reshaped and ideally molded to the desired shape to correct the vision. After this step is completed, the outer cells are smoothed back into position (this will act as a natural, organic bandage). In order to ensure additional protection, a temporary bandage soft contact lens is provided for the patient to wear during the healing process.

The Benefits of Advanced Surface Ablation
You might be wondering if the benefits and results are comparable to those of LASIK? The answer is yes! Advanced surface ablation is able to preserve the structure of the cornea because the laser correction is performed on the surface of the cornea as opposed to a deeper layer like it is with LASIK. As mentioned before, ASA is likely a much better option for those who have thin corneas since there is no need to create a flap . Lastly, ASA is less likely to induce or worsen dry eye. Advanced surface ablation is actually gentler on corneal nerves and thus reduces the possibility of inducing or worsening dry eye syndrome.
The bandage contact lenses are typically worn for 3-4 days depending on your doctor’s instructions. Additionally, your eye doctor will prescribe eye drops to aid in healing.

In most cases, patients will notice an improvement in their vision within the first few days after surgery! You are expected to see full results developing gradually over the course of approximately 3-6 months.

Are You A Candidate for ASA?
So what would make you a potential candidate? If you:
Are 18 years of age or older
Have had a stable spectacle prescription for at least one year
Have corneas too thin for LASIK
Cannot have LASIK because of certain corneal dystrophies
Seek to improve nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism

If you fit the criteria of a potential candidate for ASA, we would love for you come visit us for a free consultation! You can learn more about advanced surface ablation on our website or from one of our doctors and please feel free to contact us for more information!

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