Laser Thermal Keratoplasty (LTK)

What is LTK?

LTK or laser thermal keratoplasty is an operation that involves using a laser to increase the steepness of the cornea to correct you vision problems.

How is LTK different to the other laser procedures?

Unlike procedures such as LASIK and LASEK, laser thermal keratoplasty or LTK as it is abbreviated, involves no tissue removal from the eye. It is a relatively new procedure that can be used to correct both astigmatism and long-sightedness, however the results are usually only temporary, with over half of people requiring a second procedure within two years.

How is LTK procedure performed?

The operation involves the use of a laser to cut circles on the surface of the cornea. The laser starts near the centre of the eye and moves outwards cutting bigger and bigger circles up to around 8-9mm in diameter. In essence cutting the circles is like scoring a piece of card to fold it.

How does LTK work?

By scoring the surface of the cornea in this way, the cornea becomes steeper, increasing the refractive power of the eye. This restores the vision of people who previously couldn’t see objects that were close to them. Unfortunately this procedure is unsuitable for people who are short sighted, as correcting this would require a procedure to decrease the refractive power of the eye.

What are the advantages to LTK?

There are some advantages to the LTK procedure, it is quick, simple, causes little pain and has a low rate of infection. The recovery period is also much quicker compared with laser eye surgery, usually taking around two days.

Are there any disadvantages of LTK?

For LTK to work, the surgeon must overcorrect the vision in your eye, effectively making you short sighted for a while. This lasts for about three months, during which time you may be required to wear glasses to correct your vision. After this time, your vision should return to normal, however it will begin to get worse over time, until it is the same as before you had surgery. This is the major disadvantage to the procedure, as well as the correction only being temporary.

Am I suitable for LTK?

To be suitable to have LTK, you must be at least 40 years old, with stable vision and a suitably shaped cornea with no surface scarring or irregularities. The whole procedure is done much like the other types of laser eye surgery, just without any cutting. You will be given anaesthetic eye drops and following the surgery you will be required to use antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to help your eye recover. It is common that you may experience symptoms such as light sensitivity and soreness following the procedure. As with all types of surgery, it is important you have regular check ups with your surgeon and let them know of any troublesome symptoms you may develop.

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