Refractive eye surgery can be performed using a number of methods including LASIK, LASEK and PRK. Conductive Keratoplasy (CK) is a type of non-laser eye surgery used to correct hyperopia (farsightedness) or presbyopia (a common, age-related form of farsightedness). It works by reshaping the cornea using gentle radio waves to enhance and restore near vision.
What Does The Procedure Involve?
A non-intrusive, corneal topographic image is taken of the curvature of the eye to assess the patient’s prescription. A thorough eye test will also be performed. Anaesthetic drops are then administered into the eye and a speculum will be used to keep the eyelid open during the procedure to prevent blinking. Using a dye (which will rinse away), the patient’s treatment pattern will be drawn onto the cornea to show where the radio waves should be used.
The procedure itself is undertaken by an eye surgeon who uses a handheld probe with a special microscopic tip on the end. This applies low heat level radio waves to areas of the outer cornea that require adjustments and improvements. This forms a circular pattern which allows the connective tissue to shrink and, in turn, tightens and steepens the cornea affecting the way light enters the eye. By changing the curvature of the cornea, the eye will be able to focus on near objects.
The CK procedure can take as little as 3 minutes to perform, ensuring recovery time is kept to a minimum. It is painless, though most patients will feel a slight pressure on the eye.
You will be allowed to recover at home and will be provided with eye drops to reduce inflammation, dry eye and to prevent infection. Some patients may have to wear contact lens bandages for a few days. The eyes will also feel slightly gritty for a number of days after the procedure has been performed, but any signs of infection should be referred immediately back to the clinic involved.
Benefits of Conductive Keratoplasy
CK provides patients with a number of benefits, namely the fact that there is no laser or surgical blade used during the procedure. This in turn makes it one of the safest near vision correction procedures, as no corneal tissue is actually removed. It is a very safe procedure even if you have had previous laser eye treatment before.
It is also an outpatient procedure, meaning you can return home on the same day, with the treatment itself only taking about five minutes to perform. A surgeon will apply eye drops to numb the area, meaning there’s no need for a local or general anaesthetic, and of course, perhaps the leading benefit is the effectiveness of the procedure.
Who Is Suitable?
Patients most likely to be suitable for CK are:
– Those over 45 years of age.
– Adults who have had a good long distance vision for all of their life.
– People who have a prescription for reading glasses or near vision work.
Patients who are myopic (nearsighted), have a history of infections including dryness or corneal dystrophy, or patients with a pacemaker may not be suitable for conductive keratoplasy. Optometrists will be able to advise on other suitable procedures.
Taking Care Of Your Eyes Post-Surgery
Immediately following your procedure, your surgeon may give you special bandage contact lenses to wear, along with prescription eye drops that will reduce inflammation and lessen the likelihood of infection occurring.
You should make arrangements for someone to drive you home following your CK treatment, and provided there are no complications, you can normally leave shortly following your treatment. For at least one week afterwards, you should avoid getting your eyes wet, so take care when showering and refrain from things like swimming or using a hot tub. You should avoid touching your eyes in the first couple of weeks following treatment, and eye makeup should be avoided for at least one week after the procedure.
As the anesthetic wears off, you may experience a “foreign body sensation” in your eyes, during which it may feel like you have a piece of dirt in your eye. This will normally subside within 24 hours of having the treatment. The day after your CK procedure, you may be slightly nearsighted, which can potentially last for a few weeks or months. This may make your distance vision slightly blurry, but this will eventually dissipate. With regards to changes in your vision, it could be that you also experience vision fluctuation and sensitivity to bright light. This too will pass after a few months, but beyond this, you should be able to return to your normal routine right away.
Corrective Surgery for Monovision
It is possible for conductive keratoplasty to be performed to correct the vision in only one eye. For example, if presbyopia affects the one eye but not the other, that eye will be treated to correct this nearsightedness, resulting in a form of monovision. In order to help you adapt to monovision after the procedure, prior to treatment, you may be prescribed a contact lens in one eye. CK can improve nearsightedness, but where other treatments such as contacts or LASIK can cause blurring of distance vision, there is very little of this associated with conductive keratoplasty. This is because studies have revealed that the way in which CK alters the cornea results in zones though which the eye is able to see different distances clearly.
CK versus Laser Surgery
Due to the speed and accuracy of CK, the recovery time is greatly increased when compared to other surgeries such as LASIK, LASEK and PRK. This is because CK uses a non-intrusive technology, unlike laser eye surgery which involves removing the surface layer of the cornea by means of a corneal flap or using drops to break up the surface.
What Are The Side Effects?
Sight after the procedure should be improved immediately (or after a few days) although some patients may feel the following discomforts:
– Glare for up to 1 month
– Halos for up to 1 month
– Over-correction for a few weeks
– Dry eyes for the first few days
As presbyopia is a progressive eye condition, associated with the ageing process, further CK procedures or glasses may be required in future years.
What Are The Costs?
Prices for conductive keratoplasty range from £1,000 to £1,700 per eye and will usually include assessment and initial consultation. If required, top-up procedures can be carried out for around £500 per eye.