Abstract The excimer laser offers entirely new corneal surgery procedures. In this paper, we describe conditions for one such procedure, photorefractive keratectomy, the direct reshaping of the cornea's central optical zone using tissue ablation with far ultraviolet radiation. We present equations for the required tissue ablation to achieve required refractive corrections. Conditions for beam uniformity are presented and a method of achieving better beam uniformity using beam integration by rotation is demonstrated. The healing of rabbit corneas after area ablation was observed. Five days after treatment, the surface quality of deep cuts was very irregular; the shallow cuts produced more regular results, as predicted by our calculations of beam characteristics.