Conductive keratoplasty (CK) is a proven treatment for presbyopia (trouble seeing things up close) or hyperopia (long-sightedness). It employs a non-invasive radiofrequency-based technique to carry out a precisely controlled reshaping of the cornea, restoring perfect vision in many instances.
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Conductive Keratoplasty Quick Details
WHO IS THIS FOR
Anyone who struggles to focus on things up-close or suffers from long-sightedness, including difficulties with reading. This usually means that candidates are middle-aged or older.
People who have undergone laser eye surgery and require supplementary surgery to correct issues arising from the procedure.
People who are long-sighted, but don't want to wear reading glasses or contact lenses.
Individuals who are free of eye diseases and do not suffer from autoimmune syndromes.
The surgery lasts 1-2 hours, depending on whether one or both eyes are involved.
Recovery times are usually very quick; you can return to normal life 1-3 days after surgery.
There may be a need to refrain from strenuous activities for 2 months following surgery.
In some cases, further CK treatment may be needed 4-5 years after the initial procedure.
20/40 vision or better is achieved in 89% of cases.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
Serious side effects are rare but could include visual disturbances (such as 'seeing stars', halo effects and double vision).
Heightened sensitivity to light can also be noticed.
In rare cases, anisometropia can occur, meaning one eye focuses more than the other.
There can be allergic reactions to the eyedrops used during surgery, and to the use of anaesthetic.
What Is Conductive Keratoplasty?
Conductive keratoplasty is a non-invasive form of eye surgery. It targets the cornea, which is the outermost layer of the eye, and is instrumental in focusing light. By changing the shape of the cornea using radio frequencies, surgeons can address problems such as long-sightedness or presbyopia.
How Does Conductive Keratoplasty Work?
CK works by counteracting the degradation of the cornea, which naturally occurs in many of us as we age. As we become middle-aged, our corneas tend to lose their suppleness, making it harder to focus on nearby text or images.
1. Assessment and Preparation
The first stage in CK is a consultation with an eye specialist. They will be able to ascertain the degree of long or short-sightedness each individual has, and assess whether corrective radiofrequency surgery is the appropriate solution. Factors such as age and broader personal health will also enter the picture. If everything aligns, the doctor will explain the keratoplasty procedure to you and book an appointment. In the run-up to the surgery, you will be urged to refrain from alcohol and tobacco, and some medications may also be prohibited for a short period of time. Importantly, you will also have to avoid using all forms of contact lenses for a period of 2-4 weeks prior to the surgery.
When the surgery day comes around, you will be admitted to theatre and administered an eyedrop-based anaesthetic to one or both eyes, depending on the nature of the keratoplasty procedure. When this has been done, surgeons will use a very fine probe with a needle-like tip to manipulate the surface of the cornea. The needle tip won't penetrate the cornea at any stage (hence why the procedure is classified as non-invasive). Instead, it applies heat via radio waves. The temperature is precisely maintained to avoid excessive tissue damage, and surgeons apply pressure at a series of spots around the border of the cornea. As these spots heal, they tend to tighten up, drawing the cornea more tightly - think of it like a belt around the cornea.
3. Discharge and Recovery
When the spots have been created, the procedure is complete. There is usually no need for further measures, and you will be free to return home immediately. Recovery takes a period of weeks, as the cornea adjusts to its new form. This means that you will have to take care when washing and be mindful of it in day-to-day life. In some cases, contact lens bandages may also be applied. These are temporary, and would be necessary only for a few days.
Are There Different Types of Conductive Keratoplasty?
The procedure outlined above will vary little between patients. However, there are a number of different situations in which CK is performed. For instance, it may be carried out on one or both eyes. Patients may suffer from long-sightedness, presbyopia or astigmatism in a single eye (monovision), resulting in a slightly different procedure. In these cases, one eye must be corrected for long-vision and the other for close-vision, where surgeons will need to ensure that the two corneas match up perfectly to achieve the right level of focus. In other cases, CK is employed following laser eye surgery, in the rare event of it over-correcting myopia (short-sightedness). Instead of resorting to further laser procedures, doctors may recommend CK as an effective response.
What Should I Expect?
When undergoing CK, you should expect an instant improvement in the quality of your vision. The procedure has an excellent track record in resolving problems associated with hyperopia and presbyopia, and the corneal tightening effect can be experienced very soon after surgery. However, be aware that the healing process does take time, and in some cases, fully improved vision will take 2-4 months to develop. You will also need to follow recommendations intended to prevent infection. Additionally, the benefits associated with CK can fade over time. The procedure can do nothing to halt the ageing process, so corneal decay can resume. This can be addressed with supplementary CK appointments, often years after the initial surgery. More generally, people who have used glasses or contact lenses for long periods will not need to use those visual aids any longer. Expect profound improvements in close reading and watching television, as well as any activity which requires precise close-up vision, including sports or computer usage.