Why Epi-LASIK and Not LASIK?

June 7, 2013

You can return to driving almost immediately

What is Epi-LASIK?

Epi-LASIK is the state-of-the-art laser eye surgery procedure that was developed to solve some of the potential problems with LASIK and LASEK. It’s somewhat of a cross between the two, but differs in a few key areas. Epi-LASIK does not involve any cutting of the cornea. Studies have shown that the LASIK flap never heals fully, and leaves the patient permanently vulnerable to the flap becoming dislodged by even a simple blow to the eye.


In Epi-LASIK, no flap is cut.  Instead, a blunt-tip separating device called an “Epi-keratome” separates the outermost layer of the cornea, called epithelium from the rest of the cornea with no cutting.  This epithelial layer is discarded and regrows over approximately the next few days, while the cornea is covered by a “bandage” contact lens which is placed on the eye by Dr. Gold at the end of the procedure and then removed by him on the third, fourth or fifth post-operative day.  The patient does not handle the lens at all.  It is placed to protect the exposed nerve endings so that there is no pain with the procedure or afterwards and also to act as a smooth surface along which the new epithelium grows.


What to Expect After Epi-LASIK

With Epi-LASIK vision correction, patients usually achieve good vision from the same day up to a few weeks later and are commonly able to drive by the day after surgery.

As with any laser eye surgery, after Epi-LASIK it is very important to follow your surgeon’s instructions exactly, because the quality of the final vision you achieve is affected by how well your corneas heal. Don’t neglect to use the eye drops or other medications your doctor prescribes, and don’t miss any follow-up appointments.


Who Can Have Epi-LASIK

If you are considering LASIK, but your doctor says you need Epi-LASIK instead, ask why. It’s not for everyone, but many surgeons who perform Epi-LASIK consider it a better option than LASIK for some patients.


Epi-LASIK also is safer than LASIK for people who have professions or hobbies that increase the chance of being hit in the eye (such as soldiers, police officers, boxers and racquet sports enthusiasts) because there’s no risk of the flap being dislodged.


Dr. Jeffrey Gold is the award winning medical director at Liberty Vision of Hamden Connecticut. Dr. Gold can be seen on WTNH's CT Style, WFSB's Better CT as well as heard on Star 99.9 Radio.