Epi-LASIK, also known as Epithelial Laser In Situ Keratomileusis, is a laser vision correction procedure that improves upon LASIK and PRK, other surface ablation techniques. The FDA-approved refractive surgery procedure has been shown to minimize discomfort, shorten recovery time and reduce the incidences of post-operative haze.
Introduced by the inventor of LASIK, Epi-LASIK is a method of advanced surface treatment, or AST. It combines the techniques of LASEK without the use of alcohol. As a result, there is less of a risk of damaging limbal stem cells that might occur with the LASEK procedure.
Candidates For The Epi-LASIK Procedure
Patients who would be eligible for the Epi-LASIK procedure include those with the following conditions:
- Thin corneas
- People who have a risk of being exposed to trauma
- Dry eye
- Large pupils
- Abnormalities of the eye
- The Epi-LASIK Procedure
During the Epi-LASIK procedure, the epithelium is smoothly separated, by an epikeratome, and lifted, like a sheet, from the rest of the cornea. Using an excimer laser, the underlying corneal tissue is then reshaped. The epithelial sheet is placed back on the eye and covered with a protective contact lens to keep the flap in place and to aid in the healing process.
Patients may go back to work the next day but should not drive for at least two to three days. Full recovery can take up to three weeks, with vision gradually improving each day. The contact lens acts as a bandage during this time, protecting the cornea as it heals.
Risks And Complications Of The Epi-LASIK Procedure
During the post-operative recovery period, patients may experience some discomfort which may be alleviated by over-the-counter pain medication. While rare, complications that may occur after the Epi-LASIK procedure include:
- Slower healing
- Over or under correction of vision
- Fluctuations in vision
- Epithelial complications