The Cole Eye Institute is internationally respected for providing world-class eye care. Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute’s Refractive Center is a national leader in laser vision correction surgery, and our refractive surgeons utilize the most advanced techniques and technology to ensure patients receive the care and outcomes they have come to know and trust.

Clear vision is an essential part of our daily lives. Clear vision depends on how light rays are focused inside the eye. Normally, light is focused sharply on the retina, allowing the eye to see clearly at all distances. With refractive disorders, the eye’s shape is disproportionate, causing light to focus in front of or behind the retina. This refractive condition causes objects seen with the eye to appear blurry.

By correcting your visual problems in the eye itself instead of relying on glasses or contact lenses, laser vision correction surgery provides hassle-free normal or near-normal vision for many patients.

Improving Vision Beyond Contacts and Glasses

Patient Specific Mapping

Cole Eye Institute is the first ophthalmology center in Ohio to offer patient-specific, topography-guided laser vision correction. Cleveland Clinic ophthalmologists can now map corneal irregularities and precisely capture the data that a typical wavefront-guided procedure might miss. Now we have the potential to improve vision beyond that of glasses and contact lens corrections.

When using this latest technique, 40% of patients treated had one line or more improvement in the best corrected vision, and 30% saw better (one line of vision or more) after surgery without glasses than their best glasses prescription before surgery. Becoming commercially available in late 2015, the FDA approved this new type of LASIK treatment for eyes with myopia and myopic astigmatism in 2013, after an extensive study. The FDA’s findings showed that it is beneficial for virgin eyes and safe for routine LASIK cases.

See the Difference

Laser vision correction surgery, also known as refractive surgery, refers to a range of techniques that modify the shape of the cornea to improve vision. Today, a wide range of procedures is available.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

If you are considering laser vision correction surgery, you should be aware of the various types of procedures available. A meeting with a Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute surgeon can help you understand if you are a candidate. 

After your initial consultation, your surgeon will make treatment recommendations based on the type and severity of your refractive error and the health of your eye. LASIK, PRK and SMILE are the three most common types of laser vision correction performed today.

Which laser vision correction procedure is right for you?


In laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK), a thin flap is created in the top layer of the cornea, and the underlying tissue is reshaped by the laser. The flap is then replaced and serves as a buffer to protect the newly treated tissue from irritants, such as your blinking eyelid. Visual recovery and healing are more rapid than in most other procedures. Its greater accuracy and control lead to better outcomes. Cole Eye Institute experts use solely this bladeless technique on all patients seeking LASIK laser vision correction.


The next most common procedure is photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). This procedure also uses a laser to reshape the cornea, but instead of lifting a small flap to reach the sub-layer of the cornea, the outer layer is removed completely. This layer regrows in about three to five days. Your surgeon may have you wear a “bandage contact lens” for a few days to shield the newly treated surface from irritants.


Small-incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) uses a very precise laser to create a disc-shaped piece of tissue inside the cornea that can be removed through a small incision.


Another non-laser option for patients with high degrees of nearsightedness (high myopia) is the implantable collamer lens (ICL).  In this procedure a small, thin, contact-like lens is implanted just behind the colored part of the eye (iris). While less commonly used than laser vision correction, these lenses have been available for more than 15 years in the United States and can correct high nearsightedness and astigmatism, with great visual outcomes that can meet or surpass outcomes from LASIK in select patients. Visual recovery and healing are more typically slightly slower than LASIK but faster than PRK.


Some patients are better suited for procedures that remove the natural lens in a technique similar to cataract surgery, called refractive lens exchange (RLE). RLE achieves outcomes similar to routine cataract surgery, and depending on the type of implant used all forms of vision correction can be achieved, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (the need for reading glasses).
Before & After Surgery

Before & After Surgery

Before Surgery

If you are considering having laser vision correction surgery, the best way to learn more is to come in for a free consultation at the Cole Eye Institute.

Your consultation will begin with one of our laser vision correction technicians. The technician will review your medical history and answer your initial questions. Next, we will perform comprehensive tests of your eyes, including checking corneal maps, assessing your refraction and possibly dilating your pupils. Then, you will see a doctor who will examine your eyes and discuss which laser vision correction procedure would be best for you. Before you leave, you will spend a few minutes with a coordinator who can schedule your surgery and review payment options.

Do not wear your contact lenses for at least three days before your appointment (three weeks if you wear rigid gas permeable lenses) and bring your glasses so we can review your prescription. Bring in your parking ticket so we can validate it.

On the day of your surgery, eat a light meal before coming and take all of your prescribed medications. Do not wear eye makeup or have any bulky accessories in your hair that will interfere with positioning your head under the laser. If you are not feeling well that morning, please call to discuss whether your procedure needs to be postponed.

After Surgery

The Cole Eye Institute ophthalmologist who performs your laser surgery will ensure that you receive the highest quality care after surgery. To help you achieve the best outcome, plan on scheduling at least three follow-up appointments after your surgery. Depending on the procedure, these will occur one day and/or one week and/or three months after surgery. A visit between six months and one year after surgery also might be scheduled. The cost of these visits is included in your surgical fee.

What to Expect After Laser Vision Correction Surgery

  • Your vision may be blurry and hazy for the first day. Plan to have someone drive you home after your procedure.
  • You may experience some discomfort or sensitivity to light for the first several hours after LASIK and the first several days after PRK.
  • Your vision may fluctuate between clear and blurry for the first few weeks.
  • Your eyes may be dry even if they do not feel that way. Your vision may improve after using drops prescribed by your doctor. These drops may burn or cause temporary blurring of vision. Do not use any drops not approved by Cole Eye Institute.

Are there any restrictions after laser vision correction surgery?

It takes about two to four weeks for the eye to stabilize after laser vision correction surgery. Follow these tips to prevent injury or infection:

  • Do not rub your eyes for one week. Avoid aggressive eye rubbing even after one week. For the first three nights, wear the eye shield/goggles from your postoperative kit when you are sleeping.
  • Do not take a shower or wash your hair until the day after your surgery. Avoid getting soap, hairspray and other products in your eyes for one week.
  • Do not let tap water get in your eyes for one week.
  • Do not wear eye makeup for one week.
  • Do not get your hair colored or permed for 10 days.
  • Do not go swimming for 10 days.
  • Do not exercise for two days. Once you have resumed sports activities, wear eye protection for one month.Wear sunglasses when you go out in the sun for the first several months to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) exposure, especially if you had PRK.

If you have any questions after your laser vision correction surgery or if you experience pain, sudden decrease in vision, red eye or discharge, please call us immediately at 216.445.8585.

Above all, enjoy your new freedom. The freedom to read your alarm clock without fumbling for your glasses. The freedom to exercise without worrying about your contact lenses. And the freedom to see clearly all day, every day.

Are You a Candidate?

Are You a Candidate?

How well you see without glasses or contact lenses following laser vision correction eye surgery depends in part on your vision before the procedure. In most cases, you will be able to obtain the same vision correction with laser surgery as you had with glasses or contact lenses.

Success rates at the Cole Eye Institute are very high. All of our surgeons have performed thousands of procedures. Most people who undergo an eye surgery procedure for vision correction agree that it has made a positive impact on their quality of life.

Laser vision correction is right for many people, but it is not for everyone. If many or all of the following statements are true for you, you may be a good candidate and should call 216.445.8585 to schedule a free consultation with our team of experts. 

Are you a good candidate? Yes No
You are at least 18 years old.
You have had stable vision for the past 12 months.
You do not have a history of corneal disorders or diseases.
You have no significant medical or ocular problems and are not pregnant or nursing.
You dislike your glasses and do not find contact lenses comfortable or convenient.
You are athletic and feel your activities would be enhanced if you did not depend on glasses or contact lenses.
You worry about your ability to escape a fire or help in an emergency situation if you could not quickly find your glasses or contact lenses.
You would be happy if laser vision correction improved your vision significantly even if you still had to wear corrective lenses for some specific activities.
You prefer how you look without glasses.
You are tired of the ongoing expenses of buying replacement contact lenses, solutions, cleaners, cases and spare eyeglasses and can view laser vision correction as a good long-term investment.


Can I drive myself home after surgery?

No. Your vision may be blurry and hazy for a few days, which could make it difficult for you to drive safely. Some people are able to drive the next day to their follow-up appointment, however. Use your own judgment.

How many follow-up appointments will I have?

You will have follow-up appointments at one day after surgery, one week after surgery, one or three months after surgery, and occasionally six months after surgery. The cost of these visits is included in your surgical fee.

How long does the surgery actually take?

The actual procedure takes less than 20 minutes. Depending on your prescription and the amount of correction your eyes require, the laser itself is only on each eye for less than a minute, but plan on being in the refractive suite for two to three hours.

Can I fly on an airplane after LASIK?

It is safe to fly after surgery but your eyes may be more dry than normal and require frequent use of artificial tears.

Does the procedure hurt?

Most people have mild irritation for a few hours after LASIK. Some people compare it to wearing dirty contact lenses. Tylenol may help. Also, the eyedrops your surgeon will recommend will be helpful too. We suggest patients go home and relax with their eyes closed for a few hours after surgery. Taking a nap is a good way to do this. Do not rub your eyes. If you experience excessive redness or severe pain, call our office. With PRK, patients will experience slightly more discomfort with healing.

I have an astigmatism. Can you treat me?

We can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism in most patients.

Do you usually treat both eyes at once?

Yes. When laser vision correction was new, many surgeons chose to treat your eyes on different days as a safety precaution. However, now the technology is so advanced that most patients prefer to minimize the time off work and reduce the amount of healing time they experience after laser vision correction, so they have both eyes done at the same visit. Also, many patients reported headaches, disorientation and other discomforts from having one eye corrected and the other one not. So, if there are no problems when we treat your first eye, we feel comfortable treating the second one right away.

Is it true there is a burning smell during the procedure?

Some patients notice a smell similar to burned hair during the time the laser is treating the eye. It is normal and passes quickly.

Can my spouse watch the surgery being performed?

Observers are not allowed in the procedure room. They can wait in our waiting area.

Will you validate my parking?

Yes, bring your parking ticket in with you and we will validate it.

Can you do the laser vision correction if I am sick the day it is scheduled?

Maybe. Call us to discuss how you are feeling and we will make the decision then.

What should I do with my old glasses after I no longer need them?

You can leave them in a basket in our office and we will donate them to a vision charity.

How do I get started on arranging laser surgery?

Schedule a free consultation with our team of experts to see if one of these vision correction procedures is right for you.

Our Doctors

Our Doctors

Appointments & Locations

Appointments & Locations

To schedule a consultation at Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute main campus, please call 216.445.8585 (local) or 800.223.2273 ext. 5-8585 (toll-free).


We are located at Cleveland Clinic's main campus:

i Building - Cole Eye Institute
2022 East 105th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44195