Epi-LASIK: A LASIK Alternative for Patients with Thin Corneas

LASIK has helped millions to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses and contacts, but patients with especially thin corneas may not be candidates. Fortunately, Epi-LASIK can help these patients to experience the same life-changing benefits.

If you are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism, laser vision correction can allow you see clearly without corrective eyewear. LASIK requires creating a hinged flap of a certain thickness in the outer layer of the cornea, the dome-shaped front surface of the eye. Therefore, thin corneas can preclude a patient from standard LASIK. But Epi-LASIK by Dr. Sonny Goel uses a special blade to create an ultra-thin flap suitable for thin corneas. To learn more about whether Epi-LASIK is right for you, contact our Annapolis, Maryland, practice and schedule an appointment today.

The Epi-LASIK Procedure

LASIK and Epi-LASIK both involve the refinement of irregularities that compromise vision. The two procedures differ in the method Dr. Goel uses to access deeper layers of corneal tissue. During LASIK, the surgeon uses a blade or laser to create a hinged flap. Once the underlying tissue has been treated with the excimer laser, the flap is simply replaced.

During Epi-LASIK, the surgeon must also create a flap in the epithelium, but this flap is much thinner, and more like a sheet. Like a standard flap, this sheet will be hinged so it can be replaced after the procedure is complete. The surgeon typically uses a tool called an epithelial separator - a blunt, plastic oscillating blade - to create the flap. As with LASIK, an excimer laser will be used to precisely vaporize tiny portions of the corneal tissue to correct abnormalities. Once the underlying tissue has been reshaped, the surgeon carefully replaces the thin flap with a special tool. To facilitate healing, a special contact lens will be applied to the eye. The contact can typically be removed after three days.

Epi-LASIK Benefits

During an examination, Dr. Goel will conduct several vision tests and analyze the structures of your eye to determine your candidacy for laser vision correction. Patients with severe myopia, or nearsightedness, have corneas that are shaped more steeply. This can make it difficult for the surgeon to create an traditional epithelial flap. For this reason, LASIK is better suited to patients with less myopia (and flatter corneas).

LASIK can also pose problems for patients whose professions expose them to a greater risk of injury the eye. Boxers and police officers, for example, have a greater potential for injury that could dislodge the corneal flap. Unlike the epithelial cells, which can rapidly regrow within a few days, the deeper layer of the cornea, called the stroma, has a limited capacity to regenerate.

​​​​​​​However, it is important to understand that Epi-LASIK recovery can take longer than LASIK recovery. Some patients notice a marked improvement in vision within a matter of days, but it can take up to six months to experience the full benefits of Epi-LASIK.

Schedule an Appointment Today

To learn more about your candidacy for laser eye correction, and to find out which treatment can benefit you, contact our practice and schedule a consultation today.