Refractive surgery image of a blue eye with digital markings on it


The term “Refractive Surgery” encompasses various procedures aimed at correcting common vision problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. Here, we provide an overview of the most popular types of refractive surgery: LASIK, LASEK, PRK, Clear Lens Exchange, and Implanted Lenses.

LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis)

LASIK is the most well-known refractive surgery. It involves creating a thin flap in the cornea, the eye’s outer layer, and then using an excimer laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue. This reshaping corrects the refractive error, allowing light to focus more accurately on the retina. The flap is then repositioned, and it heals naturally. LASIK offers quick recovery times and significant improvements in vision, often within a day or two.


LASEK (Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy)

LASEK is similar to LASIK but differs in the way the corneal flap is created. Instead of cutting a flap in the cornea, LASEK involves lifting only the very thin epithelial layer of the cornea. An excimer laser is then used to reshape the cornea. This method is often preferred for patients with thinner corneas or those who are not suitable candidates for LASIK. Recovery time for LASEK can be slightly longer than LASIK, but it also offers effective vision correction.


PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

PRK was the first type of laser eye surgery for vision correction and is the predecessor to LASIK. In PRK, the entire outer epithelial layer of the cornea is removed to expose the area for laser reshaping. Unlike LASIK and LASEK, no flap is created. The recovery time for PRK is longer since the epithelial layer needs to regenerate, typically taking a few days to a week. PRK is a good option for patients with thin corneas or other corneal irregularities.


Clear Lens Exchange (Refractive Lens Exchange)

Clear Lens Extraction, also known as Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), involves removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This procedure is similar to cataract surgery but is performed to correct refractive errors rather than cataracts. RLE is particularly beneficial for individuals with presbyopia or severe hyperopia and is an excellent option for those who may not be suitable candidates for laser-based surgeries.


Implanted Lenses (Phakic Intraocular Lenses)

Phakic Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) are implanted in the eye without removing the natural lens. These lenses are placed either in front of or behind the iris to correct vision. Phakic IOLs are suitable for patients with high degrees of myopia or hyperopia who may not be ideal candidates for LASIK, LASEK, or PRK. This procedure preserves the natural lens and provides excellent quality of vision, especially for individuals with severe refractive errors.


  • Jonker SMR, Berendschot TTJM, Saelens IEY, Bauer NJC, Nuijts RMMA. Phakic intraocular lenses: An overview. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2020 Dec;68(12):2779-2796. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_2995_20. PMID: 33229653; PMCID: PMC7856940.

Choosing the Right Procedure

The choice of refractive surgery depends on multiple factors, including the patient’s eye health, corneal thickness, lifestyle, and specific vision needs. A thorough consultation with a doctor at Southland Eye is essential to determine the most appropriate surgical option. Each of these procedures offers unique benefits and can significantly enhance visual clarity and overall quality of life.

The Costs

The cost of refractive surgery varies by procedure chosen, and the surgeon you chose to provide your surgery. The cost consists of the surgeon’s fees along with the cost of the facility in which you have your procedure. Office based procedures are much less expensive than those that require a surgical suite (clear lens exchange as an example). When chosing your surgeon, we urge you not to select a surgeon based upon the price of the procedure. Cost is an important part of the decision process, but when it comes to your precious vision, don’t look for the best deal: Look for the best surgeon!

Our doctors offer Refractive Surgery Assessments designed to objectively provide you with the options that best fit the your vision.