Epi-LASIK- Laser Eye Surgery

What is Epi-LASIK?

In essence, epi-LASIK is a combination of both the LASIK and LASEK, laser eye surgery procedures. It involves folding back a flap of epithelium (the front covering of the cornea) before a laser is used to reshape the cornea.

How is Epi-LASIK surgery carried out?

The eye is immobilised and any pain associated with the procedure is reduced.  First, you will be made comfortable in a reclining chair and the eye surgeon will explain exactly what will happen next.  Then, a clamp is placed in the eye, to keep it still and to prevent you from blinking and anaesthetic eye drops are given.  Just like a microkeratome used in the LASIK procedure, a plastic blade that vibrates is used in epi-LASIK. This blade however produces a much finer cut, separating the epithelium of the cornea from the Bowman’s layer. In contrast to LASEK, no alcohol is used, as some studies have suggested it can damage the fragile epithelial cells. Instead, ophthalmologists use a blunt plastic tool called an epithelial separator to open the epithelial flap.

Once the Bowman’s layer is exposed, the procedure continues just like LASEK does, with remodelling of the cornea and flap closure. A laser is used to perform the remodelling of the cornea of the eye. This is both a very fast and accurate procedure.

Who should have Epi-LASIK?

Due to the nature of the procedure, it is not the ideal method for correcting your vision if you are long sighted. Instead this procedure is ideal if you have a thin, flat cornea as is often seen if you have mild short sight. In comparison to LASIK and LASEK, the Epi-LASIK procedure is better if you are a keen contact sports enthusiast, or you work in the police or armed forces. This is because the epithelial flap is less likely to become dislodged causing you problems with your sight. Your ophthalmologist will advise you as to which procedure is best for you depending upon a number of factors including age, occupation, previous general and eye health and any hobbies or interests you may have.

Are there any alternatives to Epi-LASIK?

If it is decided that you are unsuitable for Epi-LASIK, or any of the other laser eye surgery procedures don’t worry as there are alternatives. The most commonly used one is ICL or implantable contact lenses. Unlike normal contact lenses which you put on the front of your cornea and have to replace, the ICL’s are put inside your eye. These lenses correct your vision without the need for a laser and you don’t need to take the lenses in or out. One problem that is associated with the use of ICL’s is that if your vision further deteriorates following surgery, you may need to wear corrective eyewear again. More alternatives to laser eye surgery.

What is the recovery period like after Epi-LASIK?

Following Epi-LASIK, you will be required to wear a special contact lens on the treated eye that will help the eye to heal. This should take around four days, during which time you may also be required to wear a patch or dark glasses to stop light causing any eye damage. It is crucial that you follow the recovery information given to you by the eye surgeon/ophthalmologist. You should also know about any of the side effects or complications of laser eye surgery. 

The recovery process in Epi-LASIK laser eye surgery, is much the same as in the LASEK procedure and may last up to a few weeks. However your vision may not become normal (6/6) for a number of months following the operation and as with all laser correction procedures there is a chance that you may need enhancement surgery. This is essentially re-doing the operation to try and get the results that you desire.

How much does Epi-LASIK cost?

On average, Epi-LASIK can cost anywhere upwards of £700 per eye including aftercare. This is available with 0% finance at many clinics.

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