What is Epi-LASIK?
Epi-LASIK is the newest treatment modality in vision correction surgery field.
The main idea behind the Epi-LASIK is to combine the advantages of PRK and LASIK and eliminates some of their disadvantages. Epi-LASIK is a new term which combines the Greek word "Epipolis", which means superficial, and LASIK. Unfortunately this name does not fit with the procedure because of its closer nature to LASEK or PRK not LASIK. MEFLAK (Mechanical Epithelial Flap Laser Keratomileusis) can be a better name to describe it and CEFLAK (Chemical Epithelial Flap Laser Keratomileusis) for LASEK.
How Epi-LASIK is done ?
Epi-LASIK is similar to PRK in that it treats the surface of the cornea and similar to LASIK in that the cornea is treated under a protective, hinged flap. The Epi-LASIK procedure uses the Moria Evolution 3E microkeratome to mechanically separate the epithelium in creating a "superficial", protective flap. Unlike LASIK, no sharp blades or cutting are required to make the flap.
Once the sheet of epithelium is folded back, the laser reshapes the surface of the cornea, as with PRK. After treatment, the flap of epithelium tissue is folded back into its original position where it sticks without the need for stitches. A protective contact lens might be placed over the cornea to speed the healing process and decrease the discomfort if exists. Epi-LASIK might also be considered as a form of LASEK where a dull bladed microkeratome (or separator) used to separate the epithelium instead of Alcohol or salted water.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Epi-LASIK?
Epi-LASIK is presented as to be a safer procedure than LASIK but with the newest generation microkeratomes no significant difference has been noted so far. With Epi-LASIK, the superficial epithelial flap completely regenerates preserving the structural integrity of the cornea.
Epi-LASIK also has a number of advantages over PRK. Since the protective epithelial layer is not removed, patients experience less post-operative swelling and discomfort, and patients may experience a speedier return to functional vision. But still Epi-LASIK patients should be willing to accept a feeling of discomfort for a few days and some blurriness in their vision up to 7 days.
Who can or cannot have Epi-LASIK?
As EyeSTAR we recommend Epi-LASIK to the patients with thinner corneas due to full functional vision restoration delay compared to LASIK. Patients with corneas too steep or flat may not be a good candidate to Epi-LASIK due to possible microkeratome failure to create a perfect epithelial flap. These patients may benefit from LASEK.