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Refractive eye surgery, also known as vision correction surgery, is any eye surgery that changes the refraction of the eye and improves your vision without external lenses. Vision correction surgeries fall into two primary groups:

  1. Surgery for the cornea: The cornea focuses more light than any other structure in the eye and is responsible for about 75 percent of the total “refractive” power of the eye. The surface of the cornea gives it tremendous focusing ability. Hence, small alterations in the curvature of the cornea can result in dramatic changes in your refraction and ability to see without glasses or contact lenses.
  2. Surgery for the lens: The lens of the eye also focuses light. Vision correction procedures involving the lens serve to increase or decrease its power.

Corneal Vision Correction

Vision correction procedures involving the cornea all work by altering the shape of the cornea. Examples of refractive surgery involving the cornea include LASIK and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy).

LASIK employs the precision of a laser to reshape the cornea based upon your refraction. For example, if you are nearsighted, laser vision correction procedures can reshape the corneal surface enough to neutralize your nearsightedness, allowing you to become free of glasses.

Learn More about LASIK surgery.

Surgical correction of the lens

The most common vision correction procedure is cataract surgery. Cataracts (clouding of the eye’s crystalline lens) cause blurry vision, dulling of colors, glare and other vision disturbances. Cataract surgery involves removing the cataract and replacing it with a clear lens implant that restores the quality of your vision.

By altering the power of the implant, your distance or near vision can be affected. If you are nearsighted, an implant that allows you to see at a distance can be selected.  Similarly, an implant power can be calculated to allow you to read up close.

Learn More about Cataract Surgery.

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