What is refractive surgery?

Refractive surgery is a type of eye surgery that corrects vision. It includes cataract surgery, LASIK, PRK, and Intraocular Lens Exchange. Let’s review each time below.

Cataract surgery

Cataract surgery replaces the natural lens inside the eye. The new lens is calculated by your surgeon and can correct vision for distance, near, or both using a multifocal lens implant. This surgery usually takes around 15 minutes per eye, although you will spend a few hours at the surgery center for care. Each eye is done 2 weeks apart. The lens should last for the remainder of your life. Contact Us to arrange a cataract eye exam and consultation.

Intraocular Lens Exchange

Intraocular Lens Exchange is a refractive surgery that replaces the natural lens inside the eye. This is similar to cataract surgery, however, it is done before the patient develops cataracts. This is a great option for those who do not qualify for Lasik or PRK. Contact Us to discuss Intraocular Lens Exchange.

PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is a type of refractive surgery that removes the outer layer of cells on the cornea (front surface of the eye). PRK is designed to address nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. During PRK the outer layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, is removed. An excimer laser is then used to precisely reshape the corneal surface to correct the refractive error. The surgery takes around 20-30 minutes and both eyes are typically done on the same day.

A clear contact lens is placed on the eye to serve as a “bandage” over the corneal surface during the healing process. The contact lens stays on the eye for 4 to 7 days after the procedure. The majority of corneal healing and visual recovery occurs during the first 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. During this time, there may be some discomfort. The vision can fluctuate day-to-day.

Healing is slower with PRK than LASIK because it takes more time for the epithelium to recover. Vision is not at its best until the healing process is complete; gradual visual improvement may occur for many months to a year following surgery. PRK may be most appropriate for those with thinner than average corneas, certain corneal diseases, previous corneal surgery, and those involved in contact sports or jobs which put the eye at risk of injury. This surgery is preferred for those with a larger eyeglasses prescription or those with dry eyes as PRK is less likely to exacerbate dry eye.

Our Relf EyeCare surgeons use custom wavefront-guided PRK. This technology measures your eye’s unique shape and translates it into a refined excimer laser treatment. This technology allows us to track the eye during surgery to make the most accurate treatment possible. Not everyone is a candidate for PRK. Your surgeon will help you decide if PRK is right for you.

Read the PRK FAQ’s to learn more or contact us to schedule an eye exam for PRK.

LASIK Surgery

LASIK (Laser In Situ Keratomileusis) is a refractive surgery in which a flap is created on the front surface of the eye, the cornea. The cornea is then lasered to be flatter or steeper. This corrects vision for distance or near only. The surgery takes around 20-30 minutes, and both eyes are typically done on the same day. Occasionally, an enhancement is needed where the flap is lifted again and the laser reshapes the front surface. Some contraindications for surgery include dryness, too high of a prescription, or ocular disease. Your surgeon will tell you if you qualify. Learn more on our LASIK page.

Contact Us for an eye exam to assess which type of Refractive Surgery best suits your eyes.