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A Refractive Surgeon helps patients permanently fix their eye problems with corrective eye surgery called “refractive surgery.” By contrast, Optometrists and Ophthalmologists help patients temporarily correct their vision with glasses or contacts.
That’s a very important job. After all, eyes allow you to classify, navigate, and otherwise interact with the world around you. They’re like headlights on a moonless night: Without them, darkness dominates, making it darned near impossible to see where you’re going or what’s in your way.
When your headlights are broken, you go to an Auto Mechanic. When your eyes are broken, however, you go to an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist — who might refer you to a Refractive Surgeon.
Ideal for patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, refractive surgery can reduce or eliminate one’s dependence on glasses and contacts by “remodeling” the cornea. That visual renovation used to be accomplished primarily through radial keratotomy, a procedure that involved making incisions in the outer area of the cornea in order to flatten it. Now, however, it’s typically accomplished by laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis — or “LASIK” surgery — during which the shape of the cornea is permanently changed using laser.
No matter the procedure, when you’re a Refractive Surgeon, your job entails recommending for or against surgical treatment (some patients shouldn’t have refractive surgery, such as those who are pregnant or have diabetes, while others can’t have it because they have abnormal corneas). You also conduct the actual surgery, mitigate surgical risks, and advise and assist with patient recovery.
Again, think of eyes as headlights: You’re a medical Mechanic who specializes in vision!