Refractive surgery

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:48 pm
Many people rely on glasses and contacts to correct their vision, but some find these methods inconvenient, uncomfortable, or unattractive. Refractive surgery is a general term for surgical procedures that can improve or correct your eye’s focus by permanently changing the shape of the cornea. The cornea is the clear, front surface of the eye, which bends or refracts light rays as they enter the eye. To see clearly, your cornea and lens must focus light rays precisely on the retina, a layer of light sensing cells that lines the back of your eye. There are three main types of refractive errors that can be corrected or reduced by refractive surgery: nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Refractive surgery procedures were first introduced in the U.S. in the mid 80’s, with Radial Keratotomy (care-uh-TAH-tuh-me), or RK, being the primary procedure. Since then, the successful development of other procedures has led to the most current and advanced techniques using laser technology. Today, LASIK (LAY-sick) and PRK (P-R-K) are the most popular procedures in refractive surgery. The type of surgery you may need depends on the severity of your vision loss. Usually, eye surgery is performed on an outpatient basis with a local anesthesia, and the operation is painless.
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