Photospallation is proposed as the primary mechanism behind our recent animal studies involving corneal ablation by nanosecond-pulse mid-IR laser beams. Following a brief summary of earlier work directed to refractive procedures in the mid-IR, a preliminary analysis is presented, based on simple one-dimensional models of thermoelastic expansion developed previously. The results of the analysis indicate that front surface spallation is consistent with the striking tissue ablation characteristics observed in our recent in vivo work with short pulse beams, including very small ablation rates and submicron thermal damage zones. This is attributed to the fact that spallation is a mechanical—rather than a thermal—mechanism, which allows tissue to be removed in small layers at fluences far lower than those used in the earlier corneal studies with mid-IR beams, typically under 200 mJ/cm2, resulting in minimal heating of tissue. Unlike prior work in the area of photospallation, we also suggest that the existing theoretical basis supports the use of nanosecond pulses as an effective approach to achieving controlled ablation in the presence of very high absorption. We further suggest that such domain of operation may be preferred over shorter pulses, both from a practical standpoint and to mitigate against potential damage from shock waves.