Lasik Q & A

Epi-LASIK Avoids Using Alcohol To Remove The Cornea's Outer Layer

Performed for the first time in September 2003, Epi-LASIK corrective eye surgery was developed in order to address some of the problems and issues that arose from using traditional LASIK and LASEK procedures. Epi-LASIK procedures are recommended in certain instances, but it is not for everyone. While Epi-LASIK is considered to be an effective procedure to correct vision troubles, there are still risks involved that every potential patient should be aware of.

In order to understand the new developments that Epi-LASIK surgery utilizes, it is important to understand LASIK and LASEK eye procedures. LASIK eye surgery uses a microkeratome cutting tool or laser to cut the cornea; an initial cut on the cornea creates a flap which exposes the underlying tissues. This flap is folded back and then replaced after the cornea receives laser treatment to correct visual problems. LASEK eye procedures use a finer blade, a trephine blade, to cut the upper epithelial cells on the cornea. A hinge is left in place and the surgeon uses alcohol to loosen the cells so they can be folded back; then, as with LASIK eye surgery, a laser is used to adjust the shape of the cornea.

Epi-LASIK utilizes the best features of LASIK and LASEK procedures. During the Epi-LASIK procedure, an epi-keratome blade is used to cut the surface of the cornea just below the epithelial cell layer. Next, a small tool is used to fold back the hinged flap; using a tool instead of alcohol to remove this flap reduces the chances of developing irritation or allergic reactions after the surgery. Once the flap is folded back, a laser is used to correct the cornea. Persons who have extremely thin corneas should not receive Epi-LASIK eye treatments, and some persons have visual irregularities that are outside of a fixable range for Epi-LASIK procedures.

Epi-LASIK if often considered best for patients who engage in physical sports or hobbies, and for patients who have sufficient amounts of tissue on their cornea. Epi-LASIK surgery can be performed on patients who are not good candidates for traditional LASIK eye surgery, but every case must be evaluated by an ophthalmologist in order to see if the Epi-LASIK procedure should be used.

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