Radial Keratotomy (RK) was the first type of refractive surgery introduced in North America. Millions of patients worldwide underwent this type of procedure; over 2 million in the US and Canada alone. In many cases, LASIK procedures were done to these patients to try to undo the damage done by the initial RK procedures.
Unfortunately, these combinations of surgery led to millions of permanently damaged eyes requiring corneal transplants or the use of scleral lenses. RK surgery is a procedure in which the surgeon makes small deep incisions into the cornea to try to reduce myopia and astigmatism. Unfortunately, long term results are not promising. Many patients who have undergone RK surgery have had horrific long term complications and are unable to function with eyeglasses or conventional contact lenses. What’s more, many of these patients have significant ocular discomfort and pain.
Many of these patients suffer from:
1. Weakened corneas. The incisions from RK never regain full strength and the cornea may be weakened for life. Each patient’s personal risk depends on the number, length and depth of the incisions use in their individual case. In général, the higher the original myopia, the weaker the cornea is today.
2. Significant dry eye.
3. Risk of rupture. RK patients need to protect themselves from rupture of the eye more than patients who have not had RK surgery. Rupture can results from trauma during contact sports such as boxing or tennis etc. Patients also need to watch out for fingernails, tree branches and eye rubbing. These can re-open incisions leading to infection and irregular astigmatism. Protective eyewear must be worn for each activity or the latter should be avoided.
4. Loss of best corrected visual acuity.
5. Unstable and fluctuating vision.
6. Double or triple vision.
7. Halos, glare and reduced indoor and night vision.
8. Recurrent ocular infections and inflammation. With trauma and irritation there is a risk of blood vessels growing into the RK incisions, which can eventually lead to loss of the cornea. To prevent this from happening, one should protect the cornea from even minor trauma like eye rubbing. The incisions are prone to infection for life due to incomplete healing and open areas where bacteria can easily accumulate.
9. Severe depression and in some cases thoughts of suicide.
Our specialty practice treats patients affected by RK on a regular basis. Many of these patients have also had LASIK procedures following the RK. Our breakthrough scleral lens has allowed many of these patients to see clearly an comfortably once again. Appropriate contact lenses must fit well and be of high oxygen permeability and be monitored closely by the doctor. The results are outstanding; almost every RK patient fit with a scleral lens has had a significant improvement in their vision and comfort. These lenses are custom made for each patient and are fitted in a way to vault the cornea and maintain a constant reservoir of fluid between the lens and the cornea to ensure that it remains hydrated.
More over, this fluid layer also compensates for the surface irregularities, leading to improved vision. Our scleral lenses are highly permeable to oxygen and provide the comfort of a soft lens with higher optical quality. Most patients will have no sensation or awareness of the lens while wearing it.
Scleral lens designs currently available are considered the best option on the market to provide health benefits and increased comfort. These lenses eliminate blurred and distorted vision, promote healing of the ocular surface and protect the cornea from the surrounding environment and eyelids. Many post-RK patients report that after having received their scleral lenses they have a normal life again.