Wearing contacts and glasses can be cumbersome for some people, and can have a negative effect on their active lifestyles. Many people are choosing to take charge of their vision in a more permanent way.

Eye specialists have made incredible advancements in vision correction surgery, also known as refractive and laser eye surgery, in recent years. There are many types of vision correction surgeries. Most procedures work to reshape the cornea so that light passing through it can focus on the retina. Other surgeries replace the lens of the eye.

Here are the different types of corrective surgeries, what they improve, and how they work.

LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis)

This surgery reshapes the underlying corneal tissue to focus light into the eye and reach the retina. This procedure is ideal for patients who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism. What makes LASIK unique is its methodology. Eye surgeons create a flap of the outside layer of the cornea in order to access the underlying tissue. The procedure requires precision, and advancements in computer imaging technology allow LASIK specialists to create detailed corneal images and guide the treatment.

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)

PRK is a procedure that uses a laser to reshape the cornea. Unlike LASIK, PRK only reshapes the surface of the cornea. It’s ideal for mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. PRK can also work with computer imaging technology.

RLE (refractive lens exchange)

RLE is a refractive surgery to remove the natural lens akin to cataract surgery before cataracts have developed. The doctor makes a small incision to remove the natural lens of the eye on the edge of the cornea. The lens is replaced with a silicone or plastic lens. This procedure is also known as CLE (clear lens extraction) or RLR (refractive lens replacement) and can be used to correct severe farsightedness or nearsightedness. It is also used to correct thin corneas, dry eyes, and other minor eye problems. Additional procedures may be needed to correct astigmatism.

Phakic Intraocular Lens Implants (Implantable Collamer Lens)

Some patients who are too nearsighted for PRK and LASIK, need Phakic Intraocular Lens Implants. For this procedure, the doctor inserts an implant through a very small incision at the edge of the cornea that attaches to the iris behind the pupil. The eye’s natural lens is left in place.