Epi-LASIK is a vision correction procedure which makes use of a laser that is similar to LASIK and LASEK. While this may be a good alternative, it only works on certain types of eyes.
How Does It Differ with LASIK?
The flap created on the cornea is thinner than a LASIK flap with epi-LASIK. In both procedures, the flap only contains epithelia, which are the cells from the very thin outer layer of the cornea. The real difference lies in how the epi-LASIK and LASEK flaps are produced. Patients with very thin corneas will find a huge advantage with epi-LASIK.
Who are Eligible for this Treatment?
Although many surgeons find epi-LASIK a better option than LASIK, not everyone can undergo this procedure. Only people with the following will be considered for this procedure:
Patients with irregularly shaped or very thin corneas.
Patients who have professions that are more likely to get hit in the eye area, such as boxers, racquet sports enthusiasts, police officers, and soldiers.
Patients with certain corneal dystrophies.
Patients with larger-than-normal pupils.
Patients who have had radial retinal tears, keratotomy, or glaucoma surgery.
How Does It Work?
An epithelial separator that has an oscillating plastic blade with a thin blunt edge is used to separate the flap from the underlying corneal layer.
In epi-LASIK, an alcohol solution is not necessarily applied to the eye to loosen epithelial cells from the underlying corneal stroma unlike with LASEK. Alcohol is known to be toxic to the epithelial cells and can stretch the healing time longer. For this reason, some surgeons prefer epi-LASIK over LASEK.
With an excimer laser, the epi-LASIK flap created is folded back and the underlying central stroma is reshaped. Surgeons will apply a soft contact lens over the epi-LASIK flap after it is repositioned following the laser treatment because the flap is so thin. These contact lenses will act as a bandage that increases your comfort and allows new epithelial cells to grow faster. The bandage contact lens will be removed by your surgeon on one of your check-ups after the procedure.
No, there is no pain during LASIK as anaesthesia eye drops are instilled before, during and after the procedure. You may experience some sensation of touch as the surgeon prepares your eye for surgery. After LASIK, there may be discomfort and tearing for the first 3-4 hours. Lee Hung Ming Eye Centre advises the patient to go home and rest/sleep after the treatment and the discomfort will be much reduced after resting.