Refractive Surgery

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Who is suitable for refractive surgery?

Individuals with healthy eyes, who have a stable prescription and a good level

of vision when wearing either glasses or contact lenses. 


This guide is not intended to be a substitute for a consultation with a refractive surgeon We hope it will provide the relevant information for anyone considering refractive surgery, which is a procedure to correct people's long or short sight.

There are two options for refractive surgery

  • Treatment to the cornea

  • Treatment to the lens

1  Refractive surgery most commonly involves modifying the shape of the front surface of the eye, called the cornea, using a microsurgical procedure.


2  Alternatively it may involve removal of the natural lens and implantation of an intraocular lens (or implant) within the eye, though this is normally performed only for extreme refractive errors, where treatment to the cornea would be inappropriate.


Corneal refractive techniques work by either:

  • reducing the curvature of the central cornea in the case of myopia

  • steepening the corneal curvature for hyperopia

  • changing the curvature of only a portion of the cornea in the case of astigmatism

Approximately 50% of the population suffers from poor unaided distance vision sufficient to require the use of corrective lenses. Refractive surgery offers an alternative to reduce or eliminate dependence on corrective lenses. Probably the commonest method of corneal refractive surgery performed worldwide today is LASIK.

Refractive surgery, whether performed by laser or by microsurgery, is an elective surgical procedure and must only be undertaken when there is a full understanding of the aims, risks and benefits.

If the eye does not accurately focus rays of light onto the retina at the back of the eye then there is a refractive error.

Go to TERMINOLOGY to help you understand how your eye works.

Further information regarding refractive eye laser surgery may be found on the Oxford Eye Hospital website and also at LaserVision.  The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has useful patient information available to download.

next >>> LASIK

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Page last updated on Monday, 29 August 2005 18:54:42


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