Keratomileusis is the surgical improvement of the refractive state of the cornea performed by lifting up the front surface of the eye by forming a thin hinged flap under which the shape of the cornea is changed by using an excimer laser or other surgical device. A microkeratome is usually used to cut the flap, but a femtosecond laser can also be used to make the flap. Before the advent of the excimer laser, keratomileusis was performed using a cryolathe, which froze thin flaps of corneal tissue and lathe cut them much like one cuts the lens of a pair of glasses. After thawing, these reshaped flaps were placed under the front flap to correct visual improvement. LASIK is currently the only commonly performed keratomileusis procedure.
The word is probably derived from: Greek - keras (kerat-), horn, cornea, + smileusis, carving