What Is LASEK Eye Surgery?
LASEK eye surgery is an increasingly popular choice for those who want to do away with glasses or contact lenses. When you have LASEK surgery, a laser is used to re-shape your cornea, which improves your sight and makes you less likely to need prescription lenses. This surgery creates a permanent change in your cornea, which cannot be reversed.
How Does EpiLASEK Differ From Other LASEK Techniques?
Although the basic method is the same for all LASEK procedures, there are some small differences in the way the surgery is carried out. In LASEK surgery, an alcohol solution is used to weaken the corneal cells, then a wafer-thin flap is made in the cornea using a very fine blade, which the surgeon folds out of the way during lasering. When lasering is complete, the flap is folded back and the eye is covered to protect it during the initial stages of recovery. The protective covering is normally removed after about a week. In EpiLASEK surgery alcohol is not used to weaken the corneal cells before creating the flap.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of EpiLASEK?
EpiLASEK surgery is considered to have several advantages over other techniques. Because alcohol is not used to weaken the corneal cells, less damage is caused to the cornea, resulting in less pain and a faster recovery (initially just a few days, although it may take several months for vision to stabilise totally). The lack of alcohol also makes this technique especially suitable for patients with dry eyes.
EpiLASEK also eliminates some of the problems that can occur with the flap itself, such as wrinkling, inflammation or infection. The remaining cornea is thicker, which lessens the chance of developing problems such as ectasia (corneal bulging), which can give you blurred vision. It also means this technique is good for people with thin corneas or those who are more susceptible to eye injury through activities such as contact sports.
Of course, as with any other eye surgery, there can sometimes be complications, although these are rare. Sometimes the cornea can be under- or over-corrected, so vision isn’t clear. Although less likely with EpiLASEK, you could still have problems with dry eyes, be more sensitive to glare, or see ‘halos’ of light. Damage to your cornea could result in scar tissue. However, in most cases, any problems can be corrected through further surgery.
Is This Right For You?
During EpiLASEK, the surface cells of the cornea are altered to create a new epithelial or “surface” layer. Your surgeon will then insert a removable contact lens that will help stimulate the re-growth of this epithelial surface.
Certain individuals are great candidates for this kind of procedure, including those with thin corneas. With conventional LASEK, the cornea is thinned and weakened further, which does not occur with EpiLASEK. You could also be a good candidate for this specific type of procedure if you work in a field in which you are at high risk of being hit in the eye, or play sports or engage in hobbies where this is the case. If you have LASEK, there is the risk that such a trauma to the eye could dislodge the corneal flap that has been created, whereas there is no such flap when you undergo EpiLASEK.
EpiLASEK is an incredibly safe and effective method of vision correction for the right candidate, so be sure to discuss whether you would meet the criteria with your eye surgeon.
How Much does EpiLASEK Eye Surgery Cost?
Naturally, every person is different, so the cost of eye surgery varies depending on your individual circumstances. If the surgery you need is more complicated than usual, you will probably need to pay more. Prices also vary depending on the quality of your clinic and the experience of your surgeon. The cheapest price may not be the best value, as the clinic may not be reputable or the staff may be less experienced. You will also need to be clear exactly what is included in the price, such as initial consultation and any aftercare required.
However, bearing all these factors in mind, the total cost of EpiLASEK eye surgery usually starts from £800 per eye.