The Epi-LASEK procedure involves a gentle loosening of the most superficial layer of the cornea, instead of creating an incisional flap in the cornea. This tissue is slid off to the side while the excimer laser is used to modify the shape of the cornea. A contact lens is placed on the surface of the cornea to both protect the eye and provide patient comfort for the first five days following the procedures.
Epi-LASEK is an ideal choice of procedures for anyone with too thin a cornea or who have been diagnosed with very dry eyes, glaucoma, vascular problems, or a scotopic (large) pupil. It is also preferred for those who have undergone a previous corneal surgery, including PRK, and for those whose profession or hobby puts them at a high risk for trauma. With less intraoperative and postoperative complications, Epi-LASEK has a higher margin of safety compared to standard LASIK.
Why Must I Wear a Contact Lens for Five Days, and How Long is the Healing Process?
Due to the way the procedure is performed on the cornea, it takes a little time for it to heal into place. The bandage contact lens allows for the superficial layer to heal faster (within five days) and helps you feel less discomfort. With continued healing, visual clarity takes about two to four weeks.
Will I be Able to See During this Healing Process?
Yes… you will have vision, but it will not be as clear as you had with your glasses or contacts. During the initial 10-day period, your vision will be slightly blurry. Our patients give us a good description – they tell us that it is like looking through a thin layer of Vaseline. Once you are past this period, the vision quickly and steadily improves each day. By one month, most Epi-LASEK patients have vision equal to a standard LASIK patient.
Since this Procedure is Done Differently, is it Still Performed as an Outpatient?
Yes, this procedure is performed as an outpatient and does not involve any extra surgical time. We do expect that you might have some discomfort during the first eight to ten hours following the procedure. Pain pills and sleeping pill are prescribed to help ease discomfort.
If My Vision will be Blurry, How Soon can I Return to Work and all Normal Activities?
Most patients prefer to have both eyes done at the same time. We ask you not to drive for one week after the procedure if you have both eyes done, but many patients are able to return to work earlier. If you do not have the opportunity to alter your schedule, you have the option of doing one eye at a time.
If I Have to Expect Blurry Vision in the Beginning, Why would I want to Have Epi-LASEK?
For some patients, it is their only choice, so that makes it easy for them. For patients who do not have a medical reason to choose Epi-LASEK, it is just a matter of personal choice. Some patients fear the actual LASIK procedure and flap creation. Some patients prefer a procedure with less instrumentation and less risk both intraoperatively and postoperatively. For those who have a profession that may cause them to get a piece of metal or wood in the eye, this procedure is the safer choice. This procedure is also recommended for police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, etc., who have to worry about taking a blow to the face or eye.