Refractive Surgery – What does it mean?

Refractive error is the term used to describe the need for glasses or contact lenses to see clearly. Another alternative exists to these aids, namely Refractive Surgery. Refractive Surgery is an operation designed to correct a refractive error of the eyes. Historically there have been many Refractive Surgery procedures developed. Currently, there are two very popular procedures and a couple of others that are available and as always many undergoing research.


The most popular current procedure is LASIK. LASIK is an acronym that stands for Laser in situ Keratomileusis. This means that a flap is created in the cornea and laser treatment is applied to the remaining cornea and then the flap is replaced. Vision frequently is improving the afternoon of the procedure and there is mild short-lived scratchiness.


Another fairly popular procedure is Photorefractive Keratectomy or PRK. Results from PRK and LASIK are identical. Six months after either procedure studies have shown no difference in vision outcomes achieved. PRK sometimes does not heal as fast. It may be slightly more uncomfortable for 3-4 days and vision may not stabilize for a month. There are some advantages to PRK. It does not involve making a flap which decreases the risk of the procedure slightly. Also, it can be done in corneas that are thinner or patients with higher degrees of nearsightedness.


Another procedure that is available for patients with high degrees of refractive error is Intraocular Contact Lens or ICL. This procedure implants a specially designed soft lens inside the eye. This procedure is much more expensive and slightly riskier due to entering the eye.


A new procedure called SMILE which stands for Small Lenticule Laser Extraction is available and still developing. It involves making a small incision in the cornea and creating a lens-shaped disk of cornea all with a specially designed laser and then manually removing this disk. The result is a change in the shape of the cornea, which changes the focus of the eye. There may be some advantages to the smaller incision with less post-operative dryness and discomfort. However, the range of refractive errors amenable to correction is not as broad as LASIK and PRK. 


At present, there is not an ideal surgical procedure available to correct Presbyopia, the need for reading glasses in people that see well in the distance over age 40. Making one eye nearsighted can help with reading in that eye, while the other eye can still focus on distance. This is called Monovision and works well for many people but not everyone can tolerate the imbalance. There is a lot of research ongoing to find alternative options to treat Presbyopia.


We offer Refractive Surgery at Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida to appropriate surgical candidates that are motivated to be free from glasses and contact lenses. Please give us a call at 800-282-3937 to schedule a consult to discuss if refractive surgery is correct for you. You can learn more about our services and our company on our website at #2020YourVisionOurFocus


Bio: Ophthalmologist David M. Loewy, MD specializes in laser and cataract surgery and practices at Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida.

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