By now you’ve heard of LASIK and PRK. These are surgical procedures utilizing the excimer laser technology to reshape the cornea to decrease and in most cases eliminate the need for glasses. After receiving FDA approval years ago, these technologies have taken off and become quite popular. Since then, variations in technique have been developed to increase safety margins for those at risk for complications. This latest advance in refractive technology is known as EpiLase™ (also referred to as Epi-Lasik, EpiLasik, Epi-K, Advanced Surface Treatment, or Advanced Surface Ablation).
Envision Eye & Laser, located in Glenn Dale, MD and serving Washington DC, southern Maryland, Bowie and Prince George’s county, is one of the first centers to offer EpiLase. Performed on the corneal surface, EpiLase is a laser vision correction technique that combines the advantages of PRK and LASIK and eliminates most of their disadvantages. With PRK, the surface epithelium (the thin layer of skin covering the front surface of the cornea) is removed manually, or sometimes, with alcohol. Then the surface of the eye is treated with the laser. After the procedure, a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye for five to seven days until this layer grows back.
LASIK involves making an incision into the cornea to create a flap. This is usually done with a mechanical micro-keratome, but more recently, can also be done with a laser (i.e. IntraLaseTM) as well. This incision occurs in the deeper tissue of the cornea. Whether with a micro-keratome or with a laser, both create a hinged flap of thin corneal tissue, and your surgeon will gently fold the flap out of the way. Once this is complete, the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped with the laser and the flap is folded back into place where it will bond without the need for stitches.
The Epi-keratome Laser-assisted keratomileusis procedure, (EpiLase) uses a unique micro-keratome “separator”, to mechanically cleave the epithelium to make a sheet of surface cells. Unlike the flap of LASIK, this “sheet” is very superficial, sparing 35% of corneal tissue. No sharp blades, laser, or alcohol is required. The risk/benefit ratio is very much in favor of surface procedure over LASIK for some patients.
The epithelial “sheet” that is created by “EpiLase” is discarded and the laser is applied to the underlying corneal tissue. After the procedure, a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye for two to three days until this layer grows back. Patients who have thinner corneas would be better candidates for EpiLase than traditional LASIK surgical procedures because of the tissue conservation aspect of this procedure. EpiLase also appears to be a superior option for patients with moderate to severe dry eye problems seeking laser vision correction because the corneal nerves are not severed as with traditional LASIK.
So, if you have been told you are not a candidate for laser vision correction because your corneas are too thin, your eyes are too dry, or you just don’t want an incision on your cornea, call us today to schedule your free consultation. You may have a second chance.
Envision Eye & Laser located in Glenn Dale, MD and serves all of Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. You can leave Dr. Bovelle a message here or call 301-805-4664 to learn more about EpiLase or to schedule your laser vision correction consultation.