What is Epi-LASIK?

Epi-Lasik is a laser eye surgery procedure that was developed as an improvement to Lasik and Lasek procedures. It is similar in many ways, and treats the same conditions.

One of the biggest differences is in how the epithelial layer is handled between these three methods. This surgery uses a blunt plastic oscillating blade to separate the epithelial layer.

The epithelium, which remains attached by a small hinge at one edge, is laid back to expose the cornea. Lasik and Lasek use sharper, finer blades to lift a flap of epithelium. These can cut the layer too thick.

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Also, Lasek uses alcohol to loosen the epithelium, which can damage these cells. While some surgeons choose to use alcohol during the procedure, it is not usually used in this procedure.

The cornea is shaped with an excimer laser as in other laser eye surgery procedures. Then the epithelium is laid back in place, and a temporary lens is used to secure the flap during healing.

Recovery, including final visual improvement, can take from three days to six months. Each person heals differently.

How Does It Work?

Epi-Lasik works much the same way as Lasik and other laser surgeries. The major difference is in how the surgeon gains access to the corneal tissue. As described above, these differences do affect healing times, outcomes, post-op care and recovery differently.

In general, it works because reshaping the cornea allows light to be refracted more accurately at different focal points, resulting in clearer vision.

Pros and Cons

  • less pain than with PRK or Lasek
  • lower probability of haze
  • flap more stable than Lasek or Lasik flap
  • longer healing time than Lasik
  • cannot drive for 7 to 14 days
  • may take up to 6 months for vision to stabilize
  • Epi-Lasik is indicated if you:

  • have thin or flat corneas – not enough tissue for a proper Lasik flap
  • alternative to Lasek
  • are involved in activities that risk getting hit in the eye – more stable flap
  • have low level nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism correctible by laser eye surgery
  • are a qualified candidate for laser eye surgery
  • stable corrective lens prescription
  • are at least 18 years of age
  • corneal shape within treatable range
  • Epi-Lasik Isn’t Recommended for Everyone

    Epi-Lasik is not indicated if you:


  • engage in hobbies or professional activities that are rough or pose risk of hitting eyes
  • have dry eye
  • have had lens prescription changes within two years
  • have cataracts
  • have glaucoma
  • are pregnant or nursing (lactating
  • have corneal scarring
  • are taking steroids or immunosuppressants
  • have eye disease or abnormalities that will slow healing such as:
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • ocular hypertension
  • autoimmune disorders
  • Herpes simplex of the eye
  • hypertension
  • Associated Risks

    This surgery has risks that are similar to other laser eye surgery procedures. Choosing your eye surgeon carefully can significantly reduce risks.

    Your surgeon should be well experienced in the procedure and willing to answer all of your questions satisfactorily.

    Though rare, the risks that occur most often include:

  • over- or under-corrections
  • halos or starbursts around lights
  • erosion of the epithelium
  • dry eye
  • infection
  • corneal scarring
  • eyelid droop
  • chronic discomfort
  • inability to tolerate contact lenses
  • There have been no reports of blindness resulting from laser eye surgery. According to the Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC) less than 1% of patients experience serious problems when proper screening is done and an experienced surgeon performs the procedure.


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