Monthly Archives: March 2009

What is Epi-LASIK?

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Epi-LASIK is an alternative to LASIK – another way to have laser vision correction. It is very similar to LASIK except for one important difference. It creates a thinner corneal flap. This makes it a good option for people with thin corneas.

LASIK and Epi-LASIK are both ways to reshape the cornea, the clear front part of the eye. By reshaping its curvature, they cause it to bend light differently so that it focuses clearly on the retina. When the light-sensitive retinal cells (at the back of the eye) receive a clear image, they send it to the brain for interpretation and naming, and the brain can give you a confident translation of what you are looking at. This is 20/20 vision.

When a person has thin corneas LASIK may not be safe. Corneal reshaping is done by removing tiny pieces of tissue from the right places. This is not done from the top level of the cornea, but from the middle layer, the stroma. A flap of surface tissue is folded back to give the laser access to the stroma.

In eyes with thin corneas the flap needs to be thinner. The epi-LASIK flap is only as thin as the top layer, the epithelium – hence the name “epi”-LASIK. None of the stromal tissue is included in an epi-LASIK flap.

Results from this way of doing laser vision correction are every bit as good as those from LASIK or from PRK. You can read more on Choosing Between PRK and LASIK, as this page also discusses Epi-LASIK.

LASIK, PRK and epi-LASIK can all be done using Wavefront Technology for the diagnosis. This will give you better night vision.

To determine which method of laser vision correction would be best for you, please contact our office today for a free consultation.

LASIK and dry eye

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Dry eye is a common side effect of LASIK eye surgery. Moisturizing eye drops are always prescribed after surgery to encourage tear production and help the eyes stabilize.

Even with these drops, however, some patients experience dry eye symptoms such as:
• Itchiness
• Blurred vision
• Burning
• Redness
• Pain

The good news is that these symptoms are generally temporary and will subside in the weeks and months following surgery.

Why does LASIK produce dry eye?
During LASIK eye surgery, Dr. Penno cuts a thin flap on the cornea so she can use a laser to reshape the cornea underneath the flap. When the corneal flap is created, small nerves in the cornea are cut which supply impulses to the lacrimal, or tear-producing, gland.

As a result, the patient’s eyes are not able to produce the proper amount of lubrication. This is usually a temporary condition that corrects itself in the weeks following surgery as the nerves regrow.

Can I have LASIK surgery if I have dry eye?
If you already have symptoms of dry eye you may be able to undergo LASIK. During a thorough examination, Dr. Penno may determine that in your case it would be safe.

It may also be prudent to insert collagen or silicone punctal plugs into the openings where tears drain out of the eyes (called puncta, singular is punctum). These plugs can remain in the eyes for weeks or months and keep better lubrication on the eyes prior to surgery.

If you suffer from severe dry eye you may not be a good candidate for LASIK.

It is important to share your medical history with Dr. Penno during the consultation, including dry eye symptoms and all medications you are taking. This will help us to give you the best treatment options possible.

For a free consultation, please contact Western Laser Eye Associates today to see if you are a good candidate for this popular surgery.