What About Patients Suffering Vision Loss Due To Radial Keratotomy (RK) Surgery?
Before there was LASIK surgery, there was another surgical procedure, Radial Keratotomy (RK) that was done to improve the vision of patients who had vision loss due to nearsightedness (myopia) farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. Doctors in the United States began performing Radial Keratotomy in 1983. Most doctors stopped doing Radial Keratotomy in the early part of the 1990’s.
It is estimated that at least 10 million patients in North America underwent Radial Keratotomy. Today, virtually all of these RK patients are experiencing
significant vision difficulties. The vision and ocular comfort problems that Radial Keratotomy patients are experiencing include:
Loss of best corrected visual acuity fluctuating vision, including the need to use multiple pairs of eyeglasses during the day eye pain chronic dry eyes scarred and distorted corneas halos, glare and starbursts worse in dim light and at night (also known as higher order aberrations) double and triple vision inability to see clearly with eyeglasses or with conventional contact lens
How Was Radial Keratotomy Performed? Radial Keratotomy involved the use of a very sharp blade that made between 8 and 20 radial incisions or cuts extending from the edge of the cornea (where the white and the colored portion of the eye meet) to the edge of the pupil. Before this surgery was introduced into the United States, there were no clinical studies done to determine the long term effects of this very harmful and damaging surgery. Of course, now we know that virtually everyone who underwent Radial Keratotomy is having significant vision and comfort issues.
Many patients who lost vision due to Radial Keratotomy went on to undergo additional refractive surgeries including LASIK. These additional elective surgeries did not restore quality vision to the overwhelming majority of these patients. The main reason that surgical intervention cannot help these patients regain quality vision again is because once the cornea has become distorted due to these surgeries, there is no way to restore a perfectly smooth surface to the surgically altered cornea.
While a corneal transplant is always an option, the patient must appreciate the fact that there are risks to this procedure. The risks include rejection of the donor cornea and infection. The secondary risks to corneal transplant surgery include glaucoma and the premature development of cataracts. In addition, if the corneal transplant surgery goes well, it can take up to a year or longer for the eye to heal. In addition, virtually every patient who successfully undergoes a corneal transplant operation will need to wear a specialty contact or scleral lens in order to see clearly and comfortably again.
A much faster and safer way to restore quality vision to patients who have suffered vision loss due to Radial Keratotomy surgery is for the patient to be examined very carefully and provided with a well designed and fit oxygen permeable scleral lens. Virtually all of the Radial Keratotomy patients who we have treated over the years are seeing clearly and comfortably again with the scleral lenses that we have designed and fit them with. All RK patients (as well as LASIK patients) have corneas that have been traumatized and altered.
A well designed scleral lens will not touch the compromised cornea. Instead, the scleral lens vaults over the cornea and is supported by the white portion of the eye (the sclera). The space between the back surface of the scleral lens and the front surface of the post-RK cornea is filled with sterile, unpreserved saline solution. In other words, the dry, compromised cornea is always in a moist environment. Comfort and vision is almost always excellent.