Radial Keratotomy – referred to as “RK” by those of us in the medical field, is a surgery in which a scalpel is used to make radial incisions in the cornea to correct nearsightedness. Imagine an old-fashioned clock, but without the numbers and only lines. In an RK surgery, a surgeon would make incisions from the center, moving out along those lines. These lines reshaped the cornea through a flattening effect. The surgery was performed with a blade and by hand.
Radial Keratotomy is now outdated; it was popular far before laser surgery ever existed. In fact, it was considered a pioneer of refractive surgeries in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. But at the time it was a revolutionary approach to changing refractive errors for nearsighted patients.
Complications from Radial Keratotomy
While thousands of patients had successful results, thousands more experienced permanent eyesight challenges as a direct result of the surgery. The problem with RK surgery is that it compromises the integrity of the cornea. The result: a fluctuation in prescription that occurs unpredictably throughout the day. This is a result of the cornea taking different shapes as the day goes on due to a lack of corneal integrity from the procedure and the buildup of scar tissue from the procedure.
You can imagine the frustration and suffering that unsuccessful RK patients endure. For example, you may put on your glasses at 2 p.m. and they may work great. But the next day at 9 a.m. your prescription is completely different. Because of these extreme, yet common, issues, RK is no longer used.
Radial Keratotomy contact lenses: a new chance at vision, and life
Now, for some positive news: RK patients who are still dealing with complications now, 20 to 30 years later, make great candidates for scleral lenses. Scleral lenses are a hard lens that protects an irregular cornea. Because of these lenses, patients do not have to worry about their cornea changing shape throughout the day – scleral lenses “vault over” the corneal irregularity from RK and provide consistent clarity and comfort to one’s vision again.
Scleral lenses offer a safe alternative to surgery. This is a way for patients to get their life back, to be freed from glasses and complications. To be able to enjoy the beauty of the world, and to see their family and friends. It’s the safest and most reassuring path to go forward when recovering from a botched RK surgery.
Or, really, any botched eye surgery. Scleral lenses offer an opportunity to solve for almost any issues that have occurred in eye surgeries by providing consistency. And when it comes to eyesight, consistency is critical.
Carlsson Family Eye Center is experienced at evaluating patients to predict their success with scleral lenses. Additionally, we are experts at lens fittings. Contact us to learn more about how scleral lenses can offer a safe alternative to recovering from RK surgery complications.