's Guide to Vision Surgery: Cost, Procedures and Risks

Section Editor: Vance Thompson, MD

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Refractive surgery is the term used to describe surgical procedures that correct common vision problems (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia) to reduce your dependence on prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.

Currently, a laser procedure called LASIK (LAY-sik) is the most popular refractive surgery performed in the United States. But there are other types of refractive surgery — including other laser procedures and intraocular lens procedures — that might be an even better choice for you, depending on your needs.

The articles below will help you learn more about your surgical options so you can better discuss them with your eye doctor if you are interested in elective vision correction surgery.


Free Online LASIK Evaluation Are you a good candidate for LASIK? Our two-minute test creates a personalized report for you.

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My LASIK Journey Guide - Sponsored Section
This useful guide provides the answers to all of your questions about LASIK, whether you're just starting your research or want information about the procedure and follow-up care.

Custom Wavefront LASIK
What makes it "custom" LASIK?

Custom LASIK Q&A
A prominent U.S. Navy eye surgeon explains why he favors custom LASIK.

IntraLase "Bladeless" LASIK
This procedure uses a second laser, not a blade, to create the LASIK flap.

Debate: Blade Vs. Bladeless LASIK
Two experienced LASIK surgeons share their opinions on a much-debated topic: Should the flap-cutting device in LASIK be a microkeratome blade or a second laser?

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This procedure can reduce your dependence on reading glasses after age 40.

Ask the LASIK Surgeon
LASIK specialist Dr. Andrew Caster answered questions submitted by All About Vision site visitors.

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Other Laser And Corneal Procedures

Some surgeons prefer PRK, the original laser eye surgery, especially for certain patients.

Answers to frequently asked questions about PRK (and LASIK).

This procedure removes only a thin layer of tissue from the corneal surface prior to laser treatment.

Another no-flap laser procedure often used for thin corneas.

Kamra and Presbyopia Implants
Tiny lenses

inserted in a laser-created pocket in the cornea.

Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL)
A procedure that strengthens the cornea; used for keratoconus treatment and to prevent or treat LASIK-related corneal ectasia.

Conductive Keratoplasty
CK uses radio-frequency energy to reshape the cornea.

IOL Refractive Surgery

Phakic IOLs
These implantable lenses avoid removing corneal tissue and are inserted into the eye in front of your eye's natural lens.

Refractive Lens Exchange
Replaces your eye's natural lens with an IOL of a different power to correct your eyesight.


LASIK is a surgical procedure that uses a laser to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism. In LASIK, a thin flap in the cornea is created using either a microkeratome blade or a femtosecond laser. The surgeon folds back the flap, then removes some corneal tissue underneath using an excimer laser. The flap is then laid back in place, covering the area where the corneal tissue was removed.

With nearsighted people, the goal of LASIK is to flatten the too-steep cornea; with farsighted people, a steeper cornea is desired. LASIK can also correct astigmatism by smoothing an irregular cornea into a more normal shape.

If you are considering LASIK eye surgery, your first step is to choose a good LASIK surgeon who can evaluate whether LASIK is right for you. Your LASIK surgeon will examine your eyes to determine their health, what kind of vision correction you need, and how much laser ablation (corneal tissue removal) is required. The doctor will also ask about any health conditions that may disqualify you altogether for LASIK surgery.

If you are not a candidate for LASIK, you may qualify for another laser eye surgery such as PRK (similar to LASIK but without the flap), LASEK, or epi-LASIK. There are also non-laser vision correction procedures. Your prescription and eye structure will be considered to help determine which procedure is best for you.

LASIK is an outpatient procedure, so you don't have to stay at the surgery center overnight. The LASIK surgeon uses a computer to adjust the laser for your particular prescription. You will be asked to look at a target light for a short time while the laser sends pulses of light to painlessly reshape your cornea. The actual LASIK surgery usually takes less than five minutes.

Read an expanded description of LASIK / Read about LASIK results

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[Page updated April 25, 2017]

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Category: Astigmatism

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