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Refractive corneal surgery

Alternative Names: Nearsightedness surgery; Radial keratotomy; Refractive surgery

Refractive corneal surgery corrects mild to moderate nearsightedness. If you are nearsighted, you have trouble seeing things that are far away.

See also: LASIK eye surgery

Description of Procedure

Your surgeon will place numbing drops in your eye so you do not feel pain during surgery. The exact type of surgery done varies with each person.

  • Your surgeon may use an instrument called a keratome to lift a piece of tissue from the surface of your cornea. You may feel some pressure or discomfort during this step.
  • Your surgeon will use a laser to change the shape of the surface of your cornea. You'll be asked to stare at a light for about 1 minute during this time. Staring at the light helps keep your eye in one position while your surgeon works on it.
  • After the laser treatment, your surgeon will put the lifted tissue back into place.

The surgery usually takes less than 30 minutes. Usually both eyes are done in the same session.

This method of refractive surgery has fewer side effects than radial keratotomy, a method that was common in the 1980s.

Risks of Refractive corneal surgery

Your vision may not be completely restored after surgery. This is called under-correction. In some cases, vision may be over-corrected.

After surgery some patients may have:

  • Spots (halos) in the eyes
  • Difficulty seeing at night because of glare (light sensitivity)
  • A dislodged cornea flap, even a long time after surgery
  • Dry eyes
  • Infections of the cornea that may lead to permanent vision loss. This is rare.
  • Scarring that may lead to permanent vision loss. This is also rare.
Review Date: 2/17/2009
Reviewed By: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle , WA . Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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Copyright 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc.
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