Refractive Surgery

Refractive surgery is a group of surgical procedures designed to help reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contacts. These procedures are available to help correct the visual problems known as refractive errors: myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia (the need for reading glasses).

Refractive surgical procedures improve vision by changing the focus power of the eye. This is accomplished by altering either the cornea or the lens.

The most common refractive surgery of the cornea is called LASIK. In LASIK, laser energy is used to reshape the cornea. To avoid discomfort, a thin flap is cut on the surface of the cornea, then folded out of the way. Laser energy is used then to change the shape of the exposed cornea to correct for the refractive error, and then the flap is replaced into its original position. LASIK is nearly painless, highly successful, and often results in an improvement of vision immediately. A slightly different, but similar procedure is called LASEK, which merely uses a thinner flap.

Another type of laser refractive surgery is called PRK. This procedure is the precursor to LASIK, and differs from LASIK and LASEK in that no flap is made – the laser directly sculpts the front surface of the eye. This has both advantages and disadvantages, and often times your ophthalmologist can determine which procedure is best suited for your eyes.

There are two common refractive surgical procedures of the lens. One is an implantation of an ICL. This is basically an implanted contact lens, permanently placed inside the eye. More information on this exciting technology can be found in the Visian ICL section.

The second procedure is called RLE, or refractive lens exchange. This involves removing the natural lens, and replacing it with a individualized lens implant that works with your eye to correct any of the refractive errors – myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, or presbyopia.