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Refractive errors are some of the most common ophthalmic abnormalities worldwide and are associated with significant morbidity.Tremendous advances in treating refractive errors have occurred over the past 20 years. The arrival of the excimer laser has allowed a level of accuracy in modifying the cornea that was unattainable before. Although refractive surgery is generally safe and effective, it does carry some risks. Careful patient selection, meticulous surgical technique and frequent follow-up can avoid most complications. The experience of a surgical team can also affect the outcome and the incidence of complications. The future should bring continued improvement in outcomes, fewer complications and exciting new options for treating refractive errors.