The Eye - Glossary

Click on a letter below to go to the beginning of that listing:

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - K - L - M - N - O - P - R - S - T - V - W - Z

- A -

Ablate in surgery - is to remove.

Ablation zone - the area of tissue that is removed during laser surgery.

Accommodation - the ability of the eye to change its focus from distant objects to near objects.

Acuity - clearness, or sharpness of vision.

Astigmatism - a distortion of the image on the retina caused by irregularities in the cornea or lens.

- C -

Cornea - the clear, front part of the eye. The cornea is the first part of the eye that bends (or refracts) the light and provides most of the focusing power.

- D -

Diopter - the measurement of refractive error. A negative diopter value signifies an eye with myopia and positive diopter value signifies an eye with hyperopia.

Dry Eye Syndrome - a common condition that occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears to keep the eye moist and comfortable. Common symptoms of dry eye include pain, stinging, burning, scratchiness, and intermittent blurring of vision.

- E -

Endothelium - the inner layer of cells on the inside surface of the cornea.

Epithelium - the outermost layer of cells of the cornea and the eye's first defense against infection.

Excimer laser - an ultraviolet laser used in refractive surgery to remove corneal tissue.

- F -

Farsightedness - the common term for hyperopia.

FDA - the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration. It is the United States governmental agency responsible for the evaluation and approval of medical devices.

Flap & Zap - a slang term for LASIK.

- G -

Ghost Image - a fainter second image of the object you are viewing.

Glare - scatter from bright light that decreases vision.

- H -

Halos - are rings around lights due to optical imperfections in or in front of the eye.

Haze - corneal clouding that causes the sensation of looking through smoke or fog.

Hyperopia - the inability to see near objects as clearly as distant objects, and the need for accommodation to see distant objects clearly.

- I -

Inflammation the body's reaction to trauma, infection, or a foreign substance, often associated with pain, heat, redness, swelling, and/or loss of function.

Informed Consent Form - a document disclosing the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a procedure.

In Situ - a Latin term meaning "in place" or not removed.

Iris - the colored ring of tissue suspended behind the cornea and immediately in front of the lens.

- K -

Keratectomy - the surgical removal of corneal tissue.

Keratotomy - a surgical incision (cut) of the cornea.

Keratitis - inflammation of the cornea.

Kerato prefix indicating relationship to the cornea.

Keratoconus - order characterized by an irregular corneal surface (cone-shaped) resulting in blurred and distorted images.

Keratomileusis - curving of the cornea to reshape it.

- L -

Laser - the acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A laser is an instrument that produces a powerful beam of light that can vaporize tissue.

LASIK the acronym for laser assisted in situ keratomileusis which refers to creating a flap in the cornea with a microkeratome and using a laser to reshape the underlying cornea.

Lens - a part of the eye that provides some focusing power. The lens is able to change shape allowing the eye to focus at different distances.

- M -

Microkeratome - a surgical device that is affixed to the eye by use of a vacuum ring. When secured, a very sharp blade cuts a layer of the cornea at a predetermined depth.

MonovisionThe purposeful adjustment of one eye for near vision and the other eye for distance vision.

Myopia - the inability to see distant objects as clearly as near objects.

- N -

Nearsightedness - the common term for myopia.

- O -

Ophthalmologist - a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis and medical or surgical treatment of visual disorders and eye disease.

Optician- an specialist in the art and science of making and fitting glasses and may also dispense contact lenses.

Optometrist - a primary eye care provider who diagnoses, manages, and treats disorders of the visual system and eye diseases.

Overcorrection - a complication of refractive surgery where the achieved amount of correction is more than desired.

- P -

PRK - the acronym for photo-refractive keratectomy which is 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.

Presbyopia - the inability to maintain a clear image (focus) as objects are moved closer. Presbyopia is due to reduced elasticity of the lens with increasing age.

Pupil - a hole in the center of the iris that changes size in response to changes in lighting. It gets larger in dim lighting conditions and gets smaller in brighter lighting conditions.

- R -

Radial Keratotomy - commonly referred to as RK; a surgical procedure designed to correct myopia (nearsightedness) by flattening the cornea using radial cuts.

Refraction - a test to determine the refractive power of the eye; also, the bending of light as it passes from one medium into another.

Refractive Errors - hyperopia, myopia, and astigmatism.

Refractive Power - the ability of an object, such as the eye, to bend light as light passes through it.

Refractive Surgery - Surgical procedures that are used to change the way light refracts, or bends, as it enters the eye. Using several different procedures, refractive surgeons can enable the eye to focus images on the retina properly. Refractive surgery is usually performed to correct vision problems.

Retina - a layer of fine sensory tissue that lines the inside wall of the eye. The retina acts like the film in a camera to capture images, transforms the images into electrical signals, and sends the signals to the brain.

- S -

Sclera - the tough, white, outer layer (coat) of the eyeball that, along with the cornea, protects the eyeball.

Snellen Visual Acuity Chart - one of many charts used to measure vision.

Stroma - the middle, thickest layer of tissue in the cornea.

- U -

Under correction - a complication of refractive surgery where the achieved amount of correction is less than desired.

- V -

Visual Acuity - the clearness of vision; the ability to distinguish details and shapes.

Vitreous Humor - the transparent, colorless mass of gel that lies behind the lens and in front of the retina and fills the center of the eyeball.

Courtesy of National Eye Institute

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