Types of Refractive Eye Surgery

Types of Refractive Eye Surgery

Vision correction surgery refers to any procedure used to fix imperfect eyesight. Also known as laser or refractive eye surgery the varying methods are all intended to help patients see better than they ever have in life.

Vision Correction Surgery 

The reshaping of the cornea is often the focus of vision correction surgery. This is the transparent layer coating the front of the eye. Light travels through the cornea and focuses on the retina, in the back. Other types of laser eye surgery replace the natural lens. Vision correction surgery options include:

  • Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK): This popular laser eye surgery is highly-effective for patients who are nearsighted, farsighted or those with impaired vision due to astigmatism. During the LASIK procedure, the tissue beneath the cornea is reshaped to improve how the eye focuses light. A flap is also created in the outer later so the doctor can gain access to the area underneath the cornea.
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK): For mild to moderate nearsighted, farsighted and astigmatism cases PRK can be used to transform the cornea with a laser, much like LASIK. The difference, PRK only affects the surface of the cornea, the underlying tissue is not touched, and there is no flap.
  • Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis, (LASEK): This laser eye surgery is like the previous two, as it also used to correct the same vision problems and involves the cornea. The surgeon creates a flap beneath the cornea and uses an alcohol compound to loosen up the tissue. The cornea is reshaped with a laser.
  • Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE): This vision repair procedure is the same as cataract surgery. A small incision is made on the edge of the cornea. The surgeon removes the natural lens and replaces it with a prosthetic lens. This refractive eye surgery can effectively treat severe farsightedness or nearsightedness. To correct astigmatism, RLE may be combined with LASIK or some other similar procedure.
  • Phakic Intraocular Lens Implants: This vision correction surgery is ideal for severely nearsighted patients who are not candidates for LASIK and PRK. A small incision is made at the edge of the cornea, and the implant is attached to the patient’s iris or is inserted behind the pupil. The natural lens remains intact.

Are Refractive Eye Surgeries Safe and Effective?

Great results are well-documented, but as with any surgery, there are side effects in some cases. A small percentage of patients have developed an infection after undergoing PRK or LASIK. This setback typically results in a longer healing time and added discomfort.

There have been some incidents of over-correction or under-correction. Until your eyes have healed, you won’t know for sure if the surgery was a success. You may have to continue wearing corrective lenses. If you don’t achieve your desired results, a laser enhancement can be performed.