Calgary LASIK: What is Epi-Lasik?
Western Laser Eye Associates is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Moria Epi–LASIK epikeratome.
Epi–LASIK is the latest advancement in laser vision correction. Epi–LASIK combines the keratome technology of LASIK with the safety of surface PRK.
In Calgary as well as around the world LASIK has become very popular in the past decade due to the fact that there is more rapid recovery of vision and less discomfort in the first few days following surgery as compared to PRK. For LASIK corneal flap is made with a keratome blade or femtosecond laser in order to lift the flap and apply the laser energy to the deeper bed underneath the LASIK flap. Within the past few years some surgeons in Calgary have followed the worldwide trend to move back to surface treatments such as PRK due to the superior level of safety with equally good long term vision results.
Surface treatments like PRK and Epi–LASIK are safer because the surgery is simpler and avoids the possible flap related complications such as a buttonhole or partial flap that can occur with LASIK. Epi–LASIK and PRK are also safer than LASIKdue to the fact that the treatment is not as deep and preserves more of the natural cornea to maintain the corneal strength and avoid the rare but serious complication called ectasia in which the cornea becomes unstable which results in poor vision within months or years following LASIK. This condition is uncommon following surface laser vision correction. Surface treatments such as PRK and Epi–LASIK also avoid the possible future risk of flap shifting which can occur even years afterLASIK if there is an eye injury.
Surface laser vision correction eliminates the need to cut a LASIK flap. The surface cells are removed in order to apply the laser energy to the smooth membrane which is just underneath. For PRK these surface cells are either removed with a special brush or with a dilute alcohol solution (sometimes this technique is called alcohol assisted PRK). Both of these methods have been in use for many years and may be recommended for certain people with corneal scars or other conditions. Epi–LASIK uses an epikeratome with a blunt separator which can remove these surface cells more cleanly and without the use of chemicals.
For both Epi–LASIK and PRK a contact lens is placed for approximately 3 days. There is some discomfort with either of these treatments for those first few days until the contact lens is removed. The amount of discomfort varies from person to person with some people who need nothing more than frequent artificial tears and others who will need additional drops or oral medication such as Tylenol #3. It is important to rest and keep the eyes closed as much as possible for these first few days.
The difference between PRK and Epi–LASIK is most obvious after 3 days. There are more people who will be able to read the 20/20 line within 3 to 4 days following Epi–LASIK as compared to PRK where it may take 7 to 10 days to be within this range of vision. It is important to understand that surface laser vision correction involves a healing phase of up to 6 months over which time the vision continues to sharpen. Many people who have Epi–LASIK will be able to return to usual activities within 3 to 5 days, but it is important to keep in mind that while the vision may be in the legal range for driving it may still be somewhat blurred. Some people will limit their night time driving or have to take more frequent breaks from computer or other visually demanding work for a few weeks to a few months following Epi–LASIK.
Several studies have shown that the long term results are equally good for surface treatments like Epi–LASIK and PRK as they are for LASIK. Some studies have shown better results with surface laser vision correction than for LASIK for people having custom wavefront treatments such as CustomVue which is done at Western Laser Eye Associates
Epi–LASIK offers excellent safety, more rapid recovery of vision compared to PRK, and outstanding long term results. For more information or to book a free consultation, contact Western Laser Eye Associates today.