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Conductive Keratoplasty

Conductive Keratoplasty (CK) is a non-invasive refractive surgery. The goal is to correct moderate hyperopia well enough to drop the need for reading glasses. As opposed to using a needle, the surgeon uses a probe emitting radio waves. The radio waves interact with the corneal layer and create heat that can mold the layer into shape.

CK is most commonly used for those who are presbyopic. Presbyopia is characterized by slowly needing a stronger and stronger prescription for reading glasses. This comes from the lens losing its malleability as you age. Presbyopia affects half of all adults in the US.

The corneal layer is heated in a circular pattern. This causes the layer to tighten and rise over the pupil. This reshaped layer causes the light going into the eye to enter differently and allow the eye to better focus on close objects.

On average, this process takes about 10 minutes. An ophthalmologist would perform the operation. Local anesthetic eye drops will be used on the eyes and speculum is used to prevent blinking. A dye is placed in a ring that represents the probe’s path. Once you are able to blink again, your tears will wash away the dye.

Both eyes are operated on in the same visit if being treated for hyperopia. If one’s distance vision is good but near vision is a problem due to presbyopia, then CK will be used to create monovision. This means CK will be applied on one eye and not the other.

After the surgery patients report sharper vision, better contrast sensitivity, and a higher tolerance towards bright lights and glare. Unfortunately, these changes are not always permanent. As presbyopia worsens, the effects of CK begin to disappear. CK is only meant for prolonging the need for reading glasses. Intermediate vision, such as looking at a computer screen or phone, may be permanently improved after the operation.

If your distance vision is clear but you are presbyopic, CK is performed on one eye to create monovision. Monovision is characterized by one eye being optimized for distance vision and the other for close vision. Your dominant eye is normally corrected for distance vision. With monovision, when viewing distant objects you would close your nearsighted eye and when viewing close objects you would close your farsighted eye. With both eyes open most objects are clear at all distances.

Most patients adjust to monovision very comfortably, but do report a loss in depth perception. Additionally, while most objects do not appear blurry, your vision is definitely less sharp. Because of this, doctors recommend wearing eyeglasses for driving.

In order to be eligible for CK you must: be over 40, be presbyopic, need reading glasses but can see distant objects, be willing to accept the loss of depth perception, not have chronic dry eyes, and be comfortable with having monovision. Additionally, having internal medical equipment such as a pacemaker may make you ineligible as the radio waves could interfere with it.

After the surgery you will prescribed eye drops to prevent infection, redness, and inflammation. You may also be given an eye patch. You may have the feeling that there is a piece of dirt in your eye for about a day. There is a few week recovery period were you may have your distance vision blurred or changing, or you may be sensitive to bright light. For one week you should avoid getting water in your eye or using makeup.  You should not touch your eyes for two weeks.