Advanced Surface Ablation (ASA) is a relatively new laser vision correction procedure. An earlier form of ASA, called photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK), used to be the most commonly used refractive surgery technique. With advancements in surgical technology using lasers, ASA can be the preferred technique in some cases where the patient’s cornea is too thin for a LASIK procedure. Like LASIK, ASA aims to correct the same refractive errors — nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Compared to LASIK, ASA eliminates the need for creating a corneal flap using the microkeratome. Instead, the cells of the outer surface of the cornea are loosened and removed by one of several commonly-used methods. Then, using a laser similar to that used in LASIK, the surgeon reshapes the cornea’s surface. Following the procedure, a contact lens is worn to protect the eye’s surface while the eye is healing.
As a vision correction procedure that involves direct contact with the eye’s surface, advanced surface ablation offers several benefits. ASA is regarded as a safer procedure because there is no actual cutting necessary for creating a corneal flap, which can weaken the cornea. Also, complications from ASA are generally regarded as fewer and less bothersome.
Serious complications from ASA are extremely rare. Though safety is improved and lower complication rates result, the procedure can produce more temporary discomfort for longer time compared to LASIK. Also, recovery time and return to normal vision is usually longer.
Like all other vision correction procedures, your eye care needs and general health condition will be carefully evaluated before deciding which treatment options may be best for you.