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What is the difference between LASIK and epi-LASIK?

LASIK is a combined microsurgical and excimer laser procedure used to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. In LASIK, either a laser or a highly specialized instrument, a microkeratome, is used to make a thin flap in the cornea. The excimer laser is applied beneath the corneal flap. The flap is then replaced and allowed to heal. No stitches are necessary.

Epi-LASIK (epithelial LASIK) is a refractive surgery procedure used to treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. Epi-LASIK is similar to LASIK in that a flap is made with a keratome or mechanical device. But the flap with Epi-LASIK is much thinner and may be more appropriate for patients with thin corneas who would not otherwise be candidates for the conventional LASIK procedure.

The epi-LASIK procedure uses a specific type of microkeratome, called an epi-keratome. The epikeratome precisely separates the thin epithelial sheet — much thinner than a LASIK flap — from the rest of the cornea. Once the epithelium is separated from the rest of the cornea, the thin sheet of epithelial cells is lifted to one side. After a laser is used to treat the cornea, the thin sheet is then moved back into place, where it will self-adhere. After the procedure, a transparent bandage contact lens is placed on the cornea to promote healing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.