Why submit to the Journal of Refractive Surgery?

  • The premier journal for refractive surgeons for over 30 years

  • Published for more than 30 years
  • Indexed in MEDLINE/PubMed, SCOPUS, and other major databases
  • 2019 Impact Factor: 2.711
  • Average time from submission to decision: 44 days
  • Average time from acceptance to online publication: 76 days

Submit an Article Guidelines updatedMay 2020

Authors wishing to submit a manuscript to the Journal of Refractive Surgery should refer to the following:

Author Form

At manuscript submission, each author must complete and submit the form below. This combined Author Statement-ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest addresses copyright transmittal and any relevant disclosures.

Interactive Author Statement-ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest (interactive PDF - preferred)

  1. Download the form to your computer.
  2. Open the form in Adobe Acrobat Reader, fill it out, and then save it to your computer.
  3. Upload the form with your manuscript submission in Editorial Manager.

Note. Mac/Safari and Chrome users may have difficulty using the interactive form. These authors should use the Noninteractive Form, which must be printed, completed, and then scanned and uploaded with your manuscript submission in Editorial Manager.

Information for Authors

Journal Description and Mission

The Journal of Refractive Surgery, the official journal of the International Society of Refractive Surgery, a partner of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is a monthly peer-reviewed forum for original research, review, and evaluation of refractive and lens-based surgical procedures. The Journal publishes practical, clinically valuable articles to provide readers with the most up-to-date information regarding advances in the field of refractive surgery.

The Journal offers an author-friendly approach from submission through publication. The Journal of Refractive Surgery adheres to the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (2019) of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

Authorship Criteria and Responsibilities

Criteria for authorship include contribution to:

  • Conception and design, or
  • Data collection, or
  • Analysis and interpretation


  • Writing the manuscript, or
  • Critical revision of the manuscript

All individuals identified as authors should meet the necessary criteria for authorship listed above, and all individuals who meet the criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet the necessary criteria should be acknowledged (see Acknowledgments). Any issues related to authorship must be resolved before the manuscript is submitted to the Journal.

Authors should be accountable for the portions of the manuscript to which they have contributed. They should also have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of all other authors. All authors should have read the final manuscript prior to submission and be aware of its submission to the Journal.

One author must be identified as the corresponding author, who is responsible for (1) ensuring all authors meet the authorship criteria and complete the required Author Statement-ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest; (2) submitting the manuscript to the Journal and serving as the main contact during the review process; and (3) performing any related activities if the manuscript is accepted, such as reviewing proofs of the edited manuscript and answering editorial queries. The corresponding author will be identified as the primary contact in the published article.

Order of authorship must be determined and agreed upon by all authors before manuscript submission. Any disagreements should be resolved before submitting the manuscript. Changes in authorship (ie, order, addition, and/or deletion of authors) must be approved by all authors. Requests for changes in authorship after initial manuscript submission and before publication are required in writing (email preferred) signed by all authors.


Any individuals who contributed to the manuscript but do not meet the necessary criteria for authorship should be acknowledged. Acknowledgments should be limited to those who helped extensively, such as providing statistical help, essential equipment, or laboratory services; or translating references.

Copyright Transfer

Manuscripts are accepted with the understanding that they have not been previously published (in print or online) and are not under simultaneous consideration by another publication. Previous publication of the abstract is acceptable. Publication of data or a detailed report in news media constitutes prior publication. Accepted manuscripts become the permanent property of the Journal and will not be published until the Author Statement-ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest has been completed in full by each author.

Competing/Conflicting Interests and Sponsorship

If any author has a competing or conflicting interest in the subject matter of the manuscript, this must be indicated. If the manuscript discusses in any way a drug, a device, equipment, or an instrument, the authors must state whether or not they have any commercial or proprietary interest in the product or company. Likewise, they must reveal whether they have any financial interest as a consultant, reviewer, or evaluator. All reported competing interests are clearly indicated on all published articles.

If applicable, authors should describe the role of the study sponsor, if any, in study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing the report; and the decision to submit the report for publication. If the supporting source had no such involvement, the authors should so state. If applicable, authors must declare whether they had assistance with study design, data collection, data analysis, or manuscript preparation. If the manuscript reports on a registered clinical trial and has been assigned a trial registration number from a public trials registry, authors should provide this information.

Human Subjects Protection and Protection of Identifiable Subjects

When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors must indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional or regional) or with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 1983. Patients’ names, initials, or hospital numbers should not be used, especially in illustrative material. When reporting experiments on animals, indicate whether the institution’s or the National Research Council’s guide for, or any national law on, the care and use of laboratory animals was followed.

For manuscripts reporting experiments, authors must state formally that an appropriate institutional review board (IRB) approved the project and/or that informed consent was obtained from the subjects after the nature of procedure(s) had been explained.

If subjects’ personal details are provided, measures should be taken to protect subjects’ identity. If photographs are submitted with a manuscript, permission to publish must be obtained in writing from all individuals pictured. Measures to conceal the identity of an individual in a photograph, such as placing black bars over the person’s eyes, should not be used.

Manuscript Preparation

Manuscripts should be prepared following the AMA Manual of Style, 11th edition, and spelling should reflect Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. Manuscripts must be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins.

IMPORTANT! Manuscript files uploaded for review MUST include continuous page and line numbers.

Manuscript titles should be concise, specific, and informative and should contain the key points of the work. Overly general titles, as well as questions and declarative sentences, should be avoided.

Use of abbreviations should be limited to those that are commonly understood without explanation. All abbreviations must be spelled out at first mention in the text. Pharmaceuticals should be referred to by their generic names. Device manufacturers and their locations should appear in parentheses following the mention of devices.

Article Types
  • Original Articles: Original research, including prospective or retrospective studies.
  • Biomechanics: Discussions of subjects relevant to the topic of corneal biomechanics.
  • Editorials: Editorial statements that comment on an article included in that particular issue of the Journal or that discuss a specific topic; editorials should be submitted at invitation only.
  • Reports: Brief articles describing case reports or surgical techniques.
  • Reviews: Concise but thorough review of a specific topic, with the majority of data presented in table format.
  • Therapeutic Refractive Surgery: Surgical procedures directed at restoring corrected visual acuity and quality of vision.
  • Translational Science: Basic science or laboratory studies.
Length Limits for Submissions



Maximum Number of Words


Abstract Word Count


Maximum Number of Tables**


Maximum Number of Figures**


Maximum Number of References

  Original Article*











  Review Article






















Note. Maximum number of words is exclusive of the title page, abstract, references, and figure captions.
*Applies to Biomechanics, Original Article, Therapeutic Refractive Surgery, Translational Science article types.
**Number of tables and figures applies to the print version; other table and figures may be included as supplemental material in the online version of the article at the editor’s discretion.

Manuscript Organization

Although the guidelines below provide maximum word counts, concision always improves the readability of studies, so authors should restrict themselves to the fewest number of words, tables, and figures necessary to convey the study’s message. Click here to read the editorial regarding the “Anatomy of a Manuscript.”

Manuscripts should be organized as follows: Title page; Abstract; Introduction; Patients/Materials and Methods; Results; Discussion; References; Legends for photographs or drawings; and Tables and/or Figures.

Title page: To include the title; first name, middle initial, and last name of all authors (NOTE: There should be no more than six authors unless justification is provided), with no more than three academic degrees; professional affiliation of all authors and city location; acknowledgment of grant support; and name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address of the corresponding author.

Abstract: Each manuscript must have an abstract that includes four paragraphs, each one designated as follows: Purpose, Methods, Results, and Conclusions (the Conclusions section should be no more than 50 words). These sections must briefly describe, respectively, the problem being addressed, how the study was performed, the salient results, and the conclusions from the results. The purpose of the abstract is to allow the content of the paper to be understood independently.

Introduction: The introduction should be a brief overview (generally no more than three paragraphs) of the topic and the main objective of the study. This should not include an extensive review of the literature, but only that portion which is pertinent to the purpose of the study.

Patients and Methods: This section should include the basic design, subjects, and scientific method. Materials and methods should be written clearly and in such detail that the work can be duplicated by others. The technique of analysis of data and whether institutional review board approval (at which institution) was obtained should be mentioned. ([NOTE: Reports should include the subheading Case Reports or Surgical Technique instead of Patients and Methods.)

Results: Results must be described concisely and state the main results of the study, including confidence intervals and exact level of statistical significance. Visual acuity should be reported at the 20/20 level; if logMAR values are used, Snellen equivalent must be provided. If visual outcomes are reported, authors must provide corresponding figures following the Standard Graphs format (see below).

Discussion: The discussion should be concise, explaining the significance of the findings and their relation to previous work. It should analyze the results, indicating statistical or clinical significance and the implications. Statements should be supported by the internal data or by published references. Shortcomings should be indicated. Speculation is to be avoided. Only those conclusions supported by the data obtained and, whenever appropriate, the direct clinical implication of the findings should be stated (while avoiding speculation).

References: References should be cited consecutively in the text with superscript numbers, per the Publication Manual of the American Medical Association, 11th edition. Authors are responsible for the completeness and accuracy of references, particularly author names and page numbers. References to news articles and general web content are discouraged. References to papers “in press” should be included in the reference list; manuscripts in preparation, unpublished data, and personal communications should be mentioned parenthetically in the text. The author must provide permission of the originator of a personal communication if he or she is quoted.

References at the end of the text should be listed in numerical, not alphabetical, order. Abbreviations of the names of journals should conform to PubMed/MEDLINE. The titles of those journals that are not listed in PubMed/MEDLINE must be provided in full. Journal titles should be cited as they existed at the time of publication.

  • Articles: Iber FL, McGonagle T, Serebro HA. Unidirectional sodium flux in small intestine in experimental canine cholera. Am J Med Sci. 1969;258(5):340-350.
  • Books: Clayman HM. The Surgeon’s Guide to Intraocular Lens Implantation. 2nd ed. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK Inc; 1985:77-78.
  • Chapters in books: Thornton SP. Surgical armamentarium. In: Sanders DR, Hofmann RF, eds. Refractive Surgery: A Text of Radial Keratotomy. 2nd ed. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK Inc; 1985:87-95.

Tables: Each table should be numbered, have a concise but fully descriptive title, and be cited consecutively in the text. Tables must not duplicate material in the text, although a one or two number summary may appear in the text (eg, “Thirty-seven (54%) eyes saw 20/20 or better without correction one year after surgery.”). Tables should not be used for data that can be given in the text in one or two sentences (eg, “Table 2. Age of patients”).

All column and row heads, as well as data within the table, should be double spaced. All columns and rows must be labeled with complete words, if possible. Abbreviations may be used only if they are commonly accepted and defined in a footnote. Units of measure should be cited in column and row headings, not within the table. Parentheses (eg, mean [SD] or no. of eyes [%]) should be used to consolidate information in a row or column. A line for totals, means, etc., should be included at the bottom of columns.

Figures: Each figure must be numbered and cited consecutively in the text. If applicable, arrows or asterisks can be present on figures for identification of specified areas that are discussed in the legend. If an image has been digitally altered, this must be disclosed in the figure legend. Parts of a figure can be labeled with A, B, etc. Histopathology and electromicrographs should be annotated with letters, arrows, and where appropriate, calibration bars. Authors should use periods rather than commas to indicate decimals (eg, 1.00 rather than 1,00). All figures should be submitted in high resolution and in color when possible. If visual outcomes are reported, authors must provide corresponding figures following the Standard Graphs format (see below).

All extraneous material should be removed from photos, including manufacturer logos, patient identifying information, computer prompts, irrelevant numerical data from readouts, examination and photograph number, etc. In general, only the color-coded calibration scale and the videokeratograph with appropriate axis are necessary. Calibration bars must be placed on electron micrographs. If specific descriptive numerical data are needed, they can be placed in the figure legend if cropping the figure will remove them.

  • Permission: Drawings or computer-generated images submitted with a manuscript require permission to publish from the artist. Identifiable photographs of patients must be accompanied by proof of informed consent. Authors must disclose whether any figures or tables have been previously published; such materials must be accompanied by a letter of permission from the publisher, which extends non-exclusive worldwide rights to reprint the material for all forms of media now or hereafter developed to SLACK Incorporated. Content from U.S. government websites (eg, NIH, CDC, USDHHS) is in the public domain and generally can be used without permission. However, some content on these sites may be from another source, in which case permission must be obtained from the copyright holder.
  • Digital Requirements: Digital images should be high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and saved in JPEG or TIFF format. Image files should be uploaded separately from manuscript text files. Images embedded in Word files and PowerPoint® slides are not acceptable. If images are to print in color, CMYK format must be used. For black and white images, grayscale must be used. Color images are preferred and will be printed at no cost to the author. Each image must be a separate, stand-alone file, named to match the figure number listed in the text (eg, Jonesfig1.tif).
  • Figure Captions: The legend should be a brief description that allows the figure to be fully understood. Legends, headings, or captions should not be included within the image files, and instead should be provided in the manuscript files following the references.
Supplemental Material or Data, including Videos

Supplemental material or data submitted with a manuscript will undergo peer review with the main manuscript. If the manuscript is accepted for publication and if the supplemental material is deemed appropriate for publication, the material or data will be posted online only with the article at the time of publication. Supplemental material will not be copyedited or formatted; therefore, the authors are responsible for the accuracy and presentation of the material.

At the editor's discretion, certain tables and figures may be designated as supplemental material and will appear in the online version of the article only; these may appear as submitted by the authors, with minimal editing and formatting.

Videos may be uploaded as supplemental materials for articles discussing operative techniques. Required format is MPEG 4. Video clips should be no more than 5 minutes, with narration synced to the video. Only one video clip is allowed per article. Any text on the video must be spelled and positioned perfectly, and voice-overs should be included on the video clip.

Corneal Cross-linking

Manuscripts about corneal cross-linking should follow the guidelines established in the editorial “Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL): Standardizing Terminology and Protocol Nomenclature.” For general terminology, the Journal recommends the following: CXL for corneal ectasias; CXL-Plus for corneal ectasia management in combination with refractive treatments with a primary therapeutic target; photoactivated chromophores for keratitis (PACK-CXL) for infectious keratitis; and prophylactic CXL for cross-linking in combination with corneal refractive surgery in non-ectatic patients with a primary refractive target. Authors should also provide a standardized “CXL Methods” table (see below) outlining the details of the study protocol.

CXL Methods

(Click to enlarge.)

Reporting Visual Outcomes

Outcomes for any clinical series of refractive surgery cases must include a graphic presentation of outcomes as set out in the following articles:

Authors must include linear regression analysis with the regression equation, trend line, and coefficient of determination (r2), which should be shown on the attempted vs achieved spherical equivalent refraction scatter plot.

The Standard Graphs can be plotted using standard spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel, or dedicated software packages available for analyzing refractive surgery outcomes, such as Datagraph-med, Outcomes Analysis Software, and SurgiVision® DataLink. (The Journal of Refractive Surgery provides no specific endorsement of the above listed software packages.)

Six Standard Graphs for Corneal Refractive Surgery

Six Graphs

(Click to enlarge.)

Nine Standard Graphs for Corneal Refractive Surgery

Nine Graphs

(Click to enlarge.)

Standard Graphs for Intraocular Lens-Based Refractive Surgery

IOL Graphs

(Click to enlarge.)

Visual Acuity

Conversion Chart (PDF format)

Terms and Abbreviations

Terms and Abbreviations

(Click to enlarge.)

Manuscript Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted via Editorial Manager®. Authors should contact the editorial office with questions regarding the submission process.

Review Process

All manuscripts undergo pre-publication single-blind peer review by two or more members of the Editorial Board and/or Review Panel. Final decisions regarding manuscript disposition are made by the Editor, and the Editor mediates all interactions between reviewers and authors. Authors are notified by e-mail as soon as possible about the acceptability of their manuscript.

Manuscripts are evaluated based on their originality, significance, validity, and suitability of the subject matter to readers using the following criteria: topic is of interest, material is original and timely, writing and organization are clear, design and methods are appropriate, data are valid, and conclusions are supported by the data.

Peer reviewers are required to declare all potential competing, or conflicting, interests related to manuscripts they are invited to review. A competing or conflicting interest is anything that interferes with, or could reasonably be perceived as interfering with, the full and objective presentation, peer review, editorial decision making, or publication of manuscripts submitted to the journal. Competing interests may be personal, financial, nonfinancial, intellectual, professional, political or religious in nature. They can be related to an organization or a person.

If reviewers are currently employed at the same institution as any of the authors or have been recent (eg, within the past 3 years) mentors, mentees, close collaborators, or joint grant holders, they should recuse themselves from reviewing. If a reviewer realizes a competing or conflicting interest during their review of a manuscript, either related to themselves or to the manuscript authors, they should contact the editorial office for additional guidance.

If the Editor of the journal authors or co-authors a manuscript, the Editor will not be involved in the peer review or decision-making process for the paper. An Associate Editor will assume those duties. If an Editorial Board member of or reviewer for the journal authors or co-authors a manuscript, that person will not be involved in the peer review or decision-making process for the paper.

Reviews completed for the journal are owned by the journal and are not published. Peer reviewers are required to maintain confidentiality about the manuscripts they review and must not divulge any information about a specific manuscript or its contents without prior permission.

Contributor Awards

The Journal of Refractive Surgery bestows two annual contributor awards: the Troutman Prize and the Waring Medal. Authors interested in having their paper considered for either award should state this in their cover letter at manuscript submission. Please note the eligibility criteria for the Troutman Prize, which must apply to the lead author, are age 45 or younger and active membership in ISRS, and this should be indicated at manuscript submission. The Waring Medal is open to all authors. Award winners are listed here.

Policy on Research Misconduct

The publisher and editor will take reasonable steps to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including but not limited to plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication. Per journal policy, final manuscript acceptance is contingent upon successfully passing a plagiarism software check. If an allegation of research misconduct is made related to an article published in the Journal, the publisher and editor will follow the guidelines provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) to address such allegations.

Open Access Publication Option

The Journal offers an open access publication option to authors of accepted peer-reviewed articles. With this option, articles are made freely available online immediately upon publication in exchange for payment of an article-processing charge of $2500. SLACK Incorporated’s Open Access Publication Policy can be found here.

Copyediting and Author Proofs

All accepted manuscripts are professionally copyedited to adhere to the AMA Manual of Style, 11th edition, and journal style. The Journal reserves the right to delete extraneous or excess material and change or add titles and headings. At the editor’s discretion, certain tables and figures may be designated as supplemental material and will appear only in the online version of the article.

Proofs of the edited article are provided to the corresponding author for review and approval. Rewriting the manuscript or making frivolous changes at the proof stage is unacceptable. Authors are responsible for all statements made in their work, including changes made during copyediting and production that are approved by the corresponding author.

Author Complimentary Access

After publication, the corresponding author will receive a link that allows 50 complimentary PDF downloads.

Correspondence and Letters to the Editor

Comments about an article that appeared in the Journal will be categorized as Correspondence. Brief descriptions of findings that are not appropriate for the Short Subjects section will be categorized as Letters to the Editor. Correspondence regarding a previously published article must be submitted within 12 months of the article’s publication to be considered for possible publication, and the author of that article will be given the opportunity to respond. For Letters to the Editor, authors should briefly describe their findings and the implications for other ophthalmologists.

Letters and Correspondence should be no more than 500 words, with no more than 5 references and 1 figure. Both Letters and Correspondence may be edited for clarity or length, and authors must disclose any competing or conflicting interests. All Letters and Correspondence are published at the Editor’s discretion. Letters and Correspondence should be submitted via Editorial Manager.

Corrections and Errata

Requests to publish corrections should be emailed to the editorial office. Corrections and errata are reviewed by the Editor, published promptly, and linked online to the original article.

Article Reprints, Eprints, and Licensing Opportunities

For article reprints, eprints, and licensing opportunities, contact Sheridan Content Solutions.


The publisher works with Portico to ensure electronic backup and preservation of access to Journal of Refractive Surgery content.

Editorial Office

Questions regarding the Journal should be directed to the editorial office.

Author’s Checklist

  • Manuscript is formatted consistent with the style of the Journal and the AMA Manual of Style (11th edition)
  • Manuscript is double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, and includes sequential page and line numbers
  • On title page, the corresponding author is designated, including mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address
  • Any financial interest of the authors, their families, or direct business associates is stated on the title page
  • A structured abstract of 250 words or less accompanies the manuscript
  • References are cited consecutively in the text
  • Figures are cited consecutively in the text, and legends are provided for all figures
  • Digital images are in TIFF or JPEG format, with a resolution of at least 300 dpi.
  • The Author Statement-ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest has been completed by each author.
  • Final Step: Log onto Editorial Manager, complete the online submission form, and upload the manuscript text, table, and image files, as well as the Author Statement-ICMJE Form(s).

SLACK Author Services

Authors interested in services that include English language editing, publication support, translation services, and research communication (including research summaries, research infographics, and posters) can click here to access SLACK Author Services (in collaboration with Editage). Fees apply to services selected. Use of SLACK Author Services does not guarantee acceptance by any SLACK journal.

Scholarly Uses of Journal Articles

Acceptable uses of SLACK Incorporated journal articles that are not published open access are outlined in the chart below (click to enlarge).

Open Access Articles

Articles that are published open access in the Journal may be shared at any time as long as the applicable Creative Commons license is observed and remains in place.

For details and more information about publishing open access, access the Journal’s Information for Authors.

Commercial Uses and/or Systematic Distribution

Authors of non-open access articles published in SLACK Incorporated journals may reuse the articles only for the scholarly purposes as set out above but may NOT use or post them for commercial purposes or under policies or other mechanisms designed to aggregate and openly disseminate manuscripts or articles. This includes the use or posting of articles for commercial gain or to substitute for the services provided directly by the journal, including the posting by companies of their employee-authored works for use by customers of such companies (eg, pharmaceutical companies and physician prescribers); commercial exploitation, such as directly associating advertising with such postings; the charging of fees for document delivery or access; and the systematic distribution to others via email lists or list servers, whether for a fee or for free. Please note that scholarly social networks such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu are commercial entities and that posting the final published version of an article to these sites is considered commercial reuse.

Public Access Policy for Non-Open Access Articles

SLACK Incorporated’s journal copyright agreements enable authors funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to deposit their accepted manuscripts to PubMed Central for posting 12 months following publication by SLACK Incorporated. The agreement also allows posting of accepted manuscripts on authors’ institutional repositories 12 months following publication by SLACK Incorporated. Authors should include a link to the final published article on the journal website. SLACK Incorporated will retain copyright for these articles, which prohibits republication elsewhere, and SLACK Incorporated will retain the right to charge a fee for the final published versions of these articles in whatever format they appear.

For uses that do not fall within the situations listed above, please visit healio.com/permissions.

Questions? Contact: SLACK Customer Service, 1-800-257-8290 (856-848-1000 in NJ) or customerservice@slackinc.com

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