Radial keratotomy

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:48 pm
Radial keratotomy (care-uh-TAW-tuh-mee), or RK, is a surgical operation designed to improve nearsightedness by changing the curve of the cornea over the pupil. RK was a very common procedure until the development of laser technology and more efficient techniques like LASIK (LAY-sick) and PRK (p-r-k). During RK surgery, the surgeon uses a scalpel to make several deep incisions in the cornea in a spoke-like pattern. The incisions help flatten out the cornea and correct the patient’s vision. Lasers have also been used to make the cuts, but with little improvement in results. RK is considered by many to be an outdated method of vision correction, and has some shortcomings and limitations. For instance, RK can only correct very mild cases of nearsightedness, and cannot improve farsightedness or astigmatism. Also, the incisions may cause the cornea to weaken and eventually flatten out completely, producing farsightedness. Although new techniques of RK have improved overall results, many doctors still recommend the more advanced procedures of PRK or LASIK. Complications from RK are rare, but include double vision, dry eyes, glaucoma, and glare around lights. The average recovery time for this procedure is one to three months. It’s best to talk with your doctor about the risks and rewards of RK, since the procedure can be a good option in some cases.
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