If you suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, you likely have a refractive eye error that causes light that passes through your cornea to bend, or refract, improperly, resulting in your vision problem. Fortunately, you might be an appropriate candidate for refractive surgery to improve or correct your vision.
One of the best-known refractive surgical procedures is LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), which involves the use of laser energy to reshape the cornea (the clear, round dome at the front of your eye), thereby correcting your refractive error. In addition to LASIK, there are several other types of refractive surgery that can be performed to correct vision.
Types of Refractive Errors
Refractive surgery can generally be used to improve or correct the following vision problems:
- Nearsightedness (myopia). For those with myopia, close objects look clear, but distant objects are blurry.
- Farsightedness (hyperopia). For patients with hyperopia, distant objects look sufficiently clear, but close objects are blurry.
- Astigmatism. With astigmatism, the cornea or lens is not smooth or evenly curved, so the eyes do not focus properly.
- Presbyopia. This is an age-related eye condition that makes it harder to see images or objects up close.
Types of Refractive Surgery
There are several types of refractive surgery available to correct vision problems caused by refractive errors, including:
- LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis)
- Custom or bladeless LASIK
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
- Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK)
- Conductive Keratoplasty (CK)
- Phakic Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)
- Refractive Lens Exchange (Clear Lens Extraction)
Most of these procedures involve reshaping the curvature of the cornea with laser or heat. Sometimes, a very thin flap is made in the cornea, so the ophthalmologist can access and reshape the cornea underneath. Afterwards, the flap is replaced and the cornea is allowed heal on its own, without the need for sutures.
Before deciding on a type of refractive surgery, talk to your ophthalmologist about the potential risks and side effects. Keep in mind that there is not a single best procedure for everyone. Your ophthalmologist can help you choose a procedure that fits your visual requirements and lifestyle.