Refractive surgery is a general term referring to the collection of many different surgical procedures, all with the key intent to fix the refractive error of the eye. Refractive surgery is the preferred treatment for rectifying a variety of vision impairments. Its popularity is owing to the fact that it produces efficacious and predictable vision improvement without any major side effects.
Essentially speaking, refractive surgery is any eye surgery employed to improve visual acuity and decrease dependency on glasses or contact lenses. The refractive surgery field encompasses operative procedures for all types of refractive errors, be it myopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism or presbyopia. The most common procedure is to use lasers to reshape the corneal tissue.
Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) is the most commonly performed refractive surgery procedure. Especially recommended for treating nearsightedness, it consists of cutting a flap in the cornea in order to carve the tissue underneath and give it the desired shape. The eye surgeon may either use a microkeratome (a precision surgical instrument) or a laser to cut a flap of the corneal tissue. Then onwards, the underneath tissue is reshaped with the aid of the excimer laser (a high-precision ultraviolet chemical laser).
Other refractive surgery procedures include Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelium Keratomileusis (LASEK), EPI-LASIK, Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), Radial keratotomy (RK) and arcuate keratotomy (AK), among others. Cataract extraction and intraocular lens implants may also be considered as types of refractive surgeries, since the key intent is to extract the lens with a refractive error and replace it with a new lens that provides clear and improved vision.
As of now, LASIK is a clear winner among the available eye corrective surgical procedures. All the above listed refractive surgery procedures have potential complications. However, LASIK has a minimal complication rate of a mere 5%. With the technology in hand and with proper pre-operative examination, your laser eye surgery would go as smooth as a walk in the park.