Breaking Down LASIK

Most people, patients and eye doctors alike, refer to “laser-assisted in situ Keratomileusis” as LASIK simply because the full term is a mouthful. Run a quick search on Google, however, and you’ll see that the four-word terminology for laser eye surgery contains three terms. Here’s a breakdown of what LASIK really means:


This part of the LASIK acronym is self-explanatory; it uses laser technology to perform refractive eye surgery. The excimer laser is a widely-used type of laser for LASIK operations, using short-wave ultraviolet light to remove tissue on a microscopic scale. Due to the rapid process, the UV rays deal little to no damage to adjacent tissue.

In Situ

The term “in situ” is Latin for “in position.” First coined in the mid-1700s, “in situ” is defined in medical terms as the original position, usually of a health condition. For example, “carcinoma in situ” means cancer cells are still where they started growing. In LASIK terms, this means the operation removes a microscopic amount of corneal tissue from its position.


This term refers to the act of removing or shaping corneal tissue to improve vision, which is part of a surgical discipline called keratoplasty. LASIK works by cutting a flap on the surface of the eye to gain access to the cornea at the back. Keratomileusis can be done either with a small blade called a microkeratome or a fast, high-energy laser called a femtosecond laser.


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