Refractive Eye Surgery is any eye surgery used to improve the refractive state of the eye and decrease or eliminate dependency on glasses or contact lenses. This can include various methods of surgical remodeling of the cornea or cataract surgery. The most common methods today use excimer lasers to reshape the curvature of the cornea. Successful refractive eye surgery can reduce or cure common vision disorders such as myopia (near sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) presbyopia (aging eye) and astigmatism (eye defect in which vision gets blurred), as well as degenerative disorders like keratoconus (cornea in conical shape). The most widely performed type of refractive surgery is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), where a laser is used to reshape the cornea. For people who are nearsighted, certain
refractive surgery techniques will reduce the curvature of a cornea that is too steep so that the eye’s focusing power is lessened. Images that are focused in front of the retina, due to a longer eye or steep corneal curve, are pushed closer to or directly onto the retina following surgery. Farsighted people will have refractive surgery procedures that achieve a steeper cornea to increase the eye’s focusing power. Images that are focused beyond the retina, due to a short eye or flat cornea, will be pulled closer to or directly onto the retina after surgery. Astigmatism can be corrected with refractive surgery techniques that selectively reshape portions of an irregular cornea to make it smooth and symmetrical. The result is that images focus clearly on the retina rather than being distorted due to light scattering through an irregularly shaped cornea.
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 eye doctor can discuss your lifestyle and vision needs to determine the most appropriate procedure for you.