What is refractive surgery?

Refractive surgery includes all those LASER  CORNEAL procedures that correct refractive errors, ie myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia.

Laser correction of refractive errors provides a long-lasting alternative to eyeglasses or contact lenses

There are various surgical procedures for correcting or adjusting your eye’s focusing ability by reshaping the cornea, or clear, round dome at the front of your eye..

The most widely performed types of refractive surgery are LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis),  and PRK (photo-refractive- keratectomy)where an excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea.

In LASIK, laser ablation is done under a partial-thickness lamellar corneal flap CREATED BY A MICRO-KERATOME.

PRK  is a type of refractive surgery which reshapes the cornea by removing microscopic amounts of tissue from the corneal stroma, using a computer-controlled beam of light (excimer laser). The difference from LASIK is that surface tissue is removed so no flap is created. Recovery time is longer with PRK than with LASIK, though the final outcome (after 3 months) is about the same. More recently, customized ablation has been performed with LASIK, and PRK. LASIK and PRK are outpatient procedures generally performed with local anesthetic eye drops
Recently, a new procedure called ReLEx “FLEx” (Femtosecond Lenticule Extraction) uses  a femtosecond laser  that cuts a lenticule within the corneal stroma.

In “SMILE” (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) the same laser is used to cut a small incision along the periphery of the lenticlue about 1/5th the size of a standard LASIK flap incision. The surgeon then uses a specially designed instrument to separate and remove the lenticule through the incision, leaving the anterior lamellae of the cornea intact. No excimer laser is used in the “ReLEx-procedures.

Refractive surgery might be a good option for you if you:


  • Want to decrease your dependence on glasses or contact lenses;
  • Are free of eye disease;
  • Accept the inherent risks and potential side effects of the procedure;
  • Understand that you could still need glasses or contacts after the procedure to achieve your best vision;
  • Have an appropriate refractive error.

There is no universally-accepted, best method for correcting refractive errors. The best option for you should be decided after a thorough examination and discussion with your ophthalmologist. If you are considering refractive surgery, you and your ophthalmologist can discuss your lifestyle and vision needs to determine the most appropriate procedure for you.

To have laser correction, you need to meet certain requirements:

  • You should be 18 years or older (ideally, over 21 years old, when vision is more likely to have stopped changing).
  • Your eye prescription should not have changed in the last year.
  • Your refractive error must be one that can be treated with PRK or LASIK. A
  • Your corneas need to be healthy, and your overall eye health must be generally good.
  • You need to have realistic expectations about what laser correction can and cannot do for you.

Other procedures involve implanting a lens inside your eye.