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Astigmatic Keratectomy (AK)


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Astigmatic keratectomy is a fairly old procedure that has somewhat been eclipsed by the newer laser procedures. It uses a knife to help reshape your cornea, instead of using a laser. Astigmatism is a problem where your eye has an uneven surface and can’t focus on objects clearly. In fact many people who suffer from astigmatism say that part of their vision is focused when other parts aren’t.

How is astigmatism usually corrected?

This problem can be corrected by special prescription glasses or rigid (toric) contact lenses. If you suffer from astigmatism and want to have it corrected, the modern laser procedures such as LASIK or Intralase when guided by wavefront technology provide an excellent choice.  If you are worried about the laser procedure, you may be tempted to consider astigmatic keratectomy, as it uses a knife to cut the cornea instead of a laser. This procedure can also be done after laser vision correction if the desired result has not been achieved first time around.

How is Astigmatic Keratectomy surgery performed?

It is vital that your eye is measured well prior to the procedure to ensure that the results are the best as possible. Following measurement, your eye will be anaesthetised with some special drops to help prevent you from feeling any pain. This will then allow the surgeon to mark your cornea, so that he knows where to make the incisions in your cornea. When your ophthalmologist is ready, they will make two incisions into your cornea, helping it to become more spherical instead of the irregular shape associated with astigmatism. Hopefully this will help decrease your astigmatism.

What will my recovery be like after Astigmatic Keratectomy?

Following the operation you will be given tables and drops to take to help prevent your eye from becoming infected. You should expect your vision to return to normal within a couple of days, however it can take a number of months (three) in some cases. As with all surgical procedures, your vision may not be as good as hoped for following the operation. In this case you may need to have enhancement surgery to correct this.

Following the short surgical procedure your vision may still be slightly blurry, so it is a good idea to have someone who is able to take you home and look after you on the evening. If you have travelled from far away it is a good idea to book a stay in a hotel, as your ophthalmologist will want to examine your eye in the days following surgery.

Are there any complications or side effects of LTK?

As with all types of eye surgery, there are a number of side effects and complications that can arise. These tend to be standard to all the corrective procedures, including an aversion to light, night time symptoms such as starbursts and glare, an increased risk of infection and finally further eyesight problems.

Laser Thermal Keratoplasty (LTK) is ideally suited for you if you have mild to moderate astigmatism and your vision has been stable for at least a year. The prices for astigmatic keratectomy vary between clinics, on average costing around £500 per eye.

As always there will be a number of questions your ophthalmologist will want to ask before they decide you are suitable for the operation. You should be in good health, without any eye conditions or history of eye trauma.  If you suffer from sever astigmatism, you may still need to wear glasses or rigid (toric) contact lenses following the initial procedure.


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