Dictionary of Eye Terms
In surgery, to remove.
The vaporisation of tissue with the excimer laser.
The area of tissue that is removed during laser surgery.
See Automated lamellar keratoplasty.
A difference in imaging size between the two eyes.
A difference in refractive power of the two eyes in which the variance is at least one diopter.
The fluid-filled area between the cornea and the lens.
The fluid in the anterior chamber.
A refractive error caused by an irregular shape of the cornea, rather like the surface of a rugby ball.This gives a blurred image. Astigmatism can occur by itself, but more usually it is associated with short or long-sightedness. Astigmatism is measured in terms of diopters, cylinder meridian or axis. Uncorrected astigmatism may produce ghosting or double images.
Automated lamellar keratoplasty (ALK)
A procedure in which the surgeon first creates a flap in the uppermost layer of the cornea using a device called a microkeratome. Then the surgeon makes an optical cut after removing additional tissue with a second pass of the microkeratome.
In ophthalmology, a line that is the symmetrical centre of a curved optical surface. Measure of astigmatism.
See best corrected visual acuity below.
Best corrected visual acuity (BCVA)
The best possible vision a person can achieve with corrective lenses measured in terms of Snellen lines on an eye chart.
See our oculoplastics page for use.
The non-regenerative layer of tissue between the epithelium and the stroma (5-10 microns thick - .005 to .01 millimetres).
Eyelid (upper and lower) surgery for sagging eyelids or excessive skin. FOr more information see our oculoplastics page.
Broad beam laser
A medical instrument that produces a powerful beam of light that is focused at close range to remove corneal tissue. A broad beam laser uses a relatively large beam diameter (from 6.0 to 8.0 millimetres) which can be manipulated to ablate the cornea.
A manageable complication of LASIK related to ablation. The incidence of centre islands has been greatly reduced as more ophthalmic research has been devoted to its contributing factors.
The outer part of the eye that provides 70% of the eye's refractive power. The cornea is approximately 500 microns thick (.5 millimetre) and consists of 5 layers epithelium, Bowman's membrane, stroma, Descemet's membrane and endothelium.
In ophthalmology, a line that is the symmetrical centre of a curved optical surface. Measure of astigmatism.
A complication caused by movement of the pupil that can be corrected with an enhancement procedure.
The layer of the cornea between the stroma and endothelium. Five microns thick (.005 millimetres), this membrane provides an adhesion layer for the endothelium.
The balance of hydration in the eye.
A measurement of refractive error. Hyperopia is measured in terms of positive diopters. Myopia is measured in terms of negative diopters. The most common refractive errors ranged between +6 to -6 diopters.
A Syndrome characterised by corneal dryness due to deficient tear production.
A progressive corneal thinning and bulging.
Ectropion / Entropion
Eyelids can turn outward (ectropion) or inward (entropion). See our oculoplastics page for more information.
People who have no refractive error.
The ophthalmic term for a perfect refractive state - no nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
The innermost layer of the cornea. The endothelium is one cell layer thick (5-10 microns or .005-.01 millimetres) and provides hydration balance to maintain the cornea's transparency. The endothelium serves three main purposes it regulates the stroma's water content, provides a barrier to ingress of several constituents of the aqueous humour, and actively transports glucose.
A secondary refractive procedure performed after the initial one in an attempt to achieve better visual acuity.
A complication of LASIK wherein epithelial cells grow underneath the corneal flap.
The outermost layer of cells of the cornea. Six cells thick (20 microns), the epithelium is the eye's first defence against infection.
A "cold" laser used in refractive surgery to remove corneal tissue.
A complication of refractive surgery in which the patient sees additional luster around lights. Glare is a subjective experience that often decreases with time.
A distortion of image due to irregular healing of the corneal surface.
A complication of refractive surgery in which the patient sees additional rings around lights at night. Halos are subjective experiences that often decrease with time.
A relatively rare complication of LASIK caused by the deposition of ground substance in the cornea. An ophthalmologist can measure the haze response of a patient's eye under a slit lamp, but patients' experiences of haze vary. Outcomes for the patient include decreased night vision, halos or loss of best corrected visual acuity. Caused by the eye's reaction to the laser, haze often decreases with time and is more common with PRK.
People who are farsighted.
The ophthalmic term for longsightedness (or farsightedness). In the hyperopic eye, images are focused in back of the retina. The hyperopic eye is often described as being too flat or too short.
The pressure the fluid contained within the eye exerts on the globe.
A refractive error caused by an irregular shape of the cornea in which the curve on one side of the meridian or axis is not symmetrical with the curve on the other side.
The portion of the LASIK procedure in which the surgeon raises a thin layer of the cornea - creates a corneal flap - with an instrument called a microkeratome, to expose the layer of the cornea called the stroma.
A rare inherited condition of the cornea in which the cornea is steepened to the point of being cone-shaped.
The carving of the cornea formerly done with a lathe and blade, now done with an excimer laser.
The replacement (transplantation) of the cornea. Keratoplasty can be lamellar (replacement of superficial layers) or penetrating (replacement of the full thickness of the cornea).
A surgical incision (cut) of the cornea.
The replacement of superficial layers of the cornea with the layers of another donor cornea.
An acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A medical instrument that produces a powerful beam of light and can produce intense heat or cool vaporisation when focused at close range. Lasers are often used in surgery to remove tissue. For more information, see Laser Eye Surgery.
The acronym for laser assisted in situ keratomileusis. The name refers to the use of a laser to reshape the cornea without invading the adjacent cell layers. For more information, see Lasik Eye Surgery.
The LenSx FDA-approved femtosecond laser brings an incomparable level of accuracy and reproducibility to cataract surgery.
Scars that are dense and white.
Oily secretions from the eyelid glands that supply the outer portion of tear film, prevent rapid tear evaporation and tear overflow.
One thousandth of a millimetre. The symbol for a micron is µm.
The instrument a surgeon uses to create the corneal flap in the uppermost layer of the cornea during the LASIK procedure.
The purposeful adjustment of one eye for near vision and the other for distance vision accomplished with either corrective lenses or surgery.
People who are nearsighted.
The medical term for shortsightedness (or nearsightedness). Eye is too steep, too long, image is focused in front of the retina.
See "Myopia" above.
Scars that are translucent.
A surgeon's adjustment to the laser's computer calculation to further refine his or her own results.
Off label use
The permissible use of an approved drug or instrument in a way that has not been specifically sanctioned.
The millions of optical nerve fibres connecting to the eye and terminating in the brain where images are created and processed.
The result achieved when the change to refractive error exceeds the attempted correction.
The process of measuring corneal thickness, usually using an ultrasonic probe.
A procedure involving the removal of the surface layer of the cornea (epithelium) by gentle scraping and use of a computer-controlled excimer laser to reshape the stroma. Acronym is PRK.
Characterised by no refractive error. Practice of medicine. A regulatory body's allowance of practitioners to make decisions to best serve their patients.
The natural deterioration of near vision caused by loss of flexibility in the eye's lens as one ages. See our page on long sightedness.
The acronym for photorefractive keratotomy. A procedure involving the removal of the surface layer of the cornea (epithelium) by gentle scraping and use of a computer-controlled excimer laser to reshape the stroma.
Droopy upper eyelid. For more information see our oculoplastic surgery page.
A surgical procedure designed to correct myopia (nearsightedness) by flattening the cornea with incisions. The procedure is called a radial keratotomy because the incisions resemble the spokes in a wheel. Acronym is RK.
The bending of light waves as they pass from one medium to another
Any surgical procedure that attempts to decrease the patient's refractive error. Typically the surgeon alters the shape of the cornea in order to change the angle at which an image is projected onto the retina.
A backwards shift from the initial visual outcome.
A refractive error caused by an irregular shape of the cornea (usually a football shape) in which the curvature is symmetrical across one or more meridians or axes.
Light processing membrane; converts light into electrical impulses that are transmitted to the optic nerve.
Acronym for radial keratotomy. A surgical procedure designed to correct myopia (nearsightedness) by flattening the cornea with incisions. The procedure is called a radial keratotomy because the incisions resemble the spokes in a wheel.
Table-top microscope for examining the eye.
An eye chart used to test a patient's vision.
A line of same-sized letters on an eye chart that is used to test a patient's vision.
Spot scanning laser
A medical instrument that produces a powerful beam of light that is focused at close range to remove corneal tissue. Spot scanning lasers use radar technology to track the eye's movement.
Thickest part of the cornea (450-600 microns - approximately .5 millimetres). Between Bowman's membrane and Decemet's membrane.
Symmetry of refractive error
The refractive errors in both eyes are close to the same value.
A very thin film of water and other chemicals riding on top of the epithelium that lubricates the front of the eye.
Topical proparacain hydrochloride
Anaesthetic eye drops.
See "uncorrected visual acuity" below.
Uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA)
A person's vision without corrective lenses measured in terms of Snellen lines on an eye chart. Acronym is UCVA.
The result achieved when desired change in refractive error is not fully achieved.
In a vitrectomy, the vitreous (a clear, gel-like fluid inside your eye) is removed to enable your surgeon to carry out treatments that cannot be performed with the fluid in place. At many clinics, vitreoretinal surgery is still an in-patient procedure that requires you to stay overnight. But when you come to Eye Institute you’ll enjoy the very highest standards of care, along with the latest vitreoretinal surgery techniques, meaning you’ll be able to go home almost straight after your surgery.
The gel-like fluid in the main cavity of the eye behind lens and pupil.
See our page on watery eyes for causes and solutions.