What is Epi LASIK?

It is a surgical procedure developed recently for solving the problems linked to LASEK and LASIK surgery. It is a hybrid of the two procedures yet different too. In LASIK, the eye doctor cuts out a flap using a sharp laser or blade within the cornea with a sharp blade or a laser. However, this procedure carries the risk of taking out a flap too thick, ultimately causing damage.

On the other hand, LASEK involves an eye doctor cutting away the epithelium or the outer layer of the cornea using a sharp blade. Moreover, LASEK requires alcohol to loosen the layer of epithelium, whereas in Epi LASIK, a plastic blade termed as epithelial separator does the job of separation of epithelial sheet from the eye. By not using alcohol, the surgeons can prevent the alcohol reaction which can damage the epithelial cells.

Types of Epi LASIK Surgery

There are two main types of this surgical procedure:

1.     Standard Surgery:

The standard procedure is the safest method for treating basic refractive errors. It does not make use of any advanced technologies.

2.     Wavefront Surgery:

The wavefront surgery is used for the patients requiring greater corrections, poor night visions or abnormally large pupils. It provides a better and higher contrast, and perfection of vision.

What Happens During the Procedure?

During the procedure, the surgeon creates an epithelial flap with the help of an epithelial separator and then folds it out of the way. After that, the surgeon uses a laser to shape the cornea to its desired shape, and places the flap back in its place.

After the procedure is complete, a special lens is positioned on the eye to make sure the flap stays in place during the interval of re-growth of epithelium. The lens has a high permeability for oxygen, and allows the growth of epithelial tissue as well as protecting the eye surface.

Post-Treatment Care

The doctor places a flap and requests extra care for the coming three to five days and waits for the epithelial tissue to grow back again. The vision goes back to perfection within three to five days for some while takes months for others. Normally patients are allowed to drive after full week of healing.

Who is a Valuable Candidate for this Procedure?

Patients with following conditions are valuable candidates for the epi LASIK procedure:

  • Those who suffer from irregular or thin corneas
  • Those who suffer from certain dystrophies of cornea
  • Those with abnormally large sized pupils
  • Those who have had glaucoma surgery, retinal tears surgery or a radial keratotomy
  • Anyone who does not want to go for LASIK surgery

Since creating an epithelial incision is more difficult in patients with high range of myopia and very steep corneas, this procedure is more suited for patients with mild myopia.

What are the Possible Risks of an Epi LASIK Surgery?

The risks of this procedure are comparatively rare, however can include:

  • A delay in the healing of the epithelial tissue
  • A growth of new epithelial layer over an existing older layer
  • Either over excessive correction of the cornea or not enough correction as was desired
  • Fluctuation in the vision
  • Halos, rings or starbursts presumed near the sources of light
  • A hazy vision within the cornea
  • Loss of flap created within the epithelium
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