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What is refractive surgery?

There are a number of techniques used in refractive surgery.

Laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) With LASIK, an instrument called a microkeratome is used to create a thin flap in the cornea. This flap is folded back, and an excimer laser sculpts the exposed corneal tissue to reshape it. The flap is then repositioned and allowed to heal naturally. No stitches are necessary to hold the flap in place.

Epi-LASIK Epi-LASIK uses a special device called an epikeratome to separate the thin epithelial sheet — much thinner than a LASIK flap — from the rest of the cornea. An excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea. Afterwards, the epithelial sheet is repositioned (or in some cases, is simply removed). A bandage contact lens is applied and left in place for a few days to help the epithelium heal.

Advanced Surface Ablation

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) With PRK, the surgeon removes the epithelium from the cornea. An excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea. A bandage contact lens is applied and left in place for a few days to help the epithelium heal.

LASEK With LASEK, a dilute alcohol solution is used to separate the epithelium and an instrument is used to gently scroll it to the side. An excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea. Then, the epithelial sheet is repositioned (or in some cases, is simply removed). A bandage contact lens is applied and left in place for a few days to help the epithelium heal.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.