An abnormal curvature of the cornea (the transparent layer in front of the eye) may cause a vision error, where light does not focus on the retina, the photosensitive layer at the back of the eye, thus creating a blurred or hazy image. Epi-LASIK is a laser surgery that corrects such errors by reshaping the cornea. It is a modification of the LASIK and LASEK techniques and overcomes some of their drawbacks.
Epi-LASIK is indicated for near-sightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism (irregular curvature of the cornea) and for very thin corneas where LASIK surgery is difficult to perform.
Before the procedure, you are advised to stop wearing contact lenses for a period. The procedure is performed under local anaesthesia. Unlike the regular LASIK procedure, where a flap of cornea is incised and hinged off the rest of the cornea, in this procedure, a thinner epithelial layer is created with a special instrument and rolled or folded away. The underlying corneal surface is reshaped with a laser to correct your vision abnormality. The thin layer is then rolled back and covered with a special protective lens to allow the cornea to heal. This is left for 3 to 4 days, after which the lens is removed. Clear vision develops gradually over of a period of weeks to months.
Epi-LASIK has the following advantages:
- Faster healing time with improved comfort
- Avoids the risk of flap complications
- Avoids the risk of developing dry eyes from damage to nerves in the cornea
- Avoids the use of alcohol used in other eye surgeries, which can cause cell damage