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Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty (ALK)

Underlying Problem Requiring Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty (ALK):
Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty, or ALK, is used when a person has severe nearsightedness or mild cases of farsightedness. This procedure should be used when the patient does not want to rely on glasses or any prescription eye wear any more. ALK is different from other eye treatments in the aspect that there are no lasers involved, and the healing time is a lot quicker compared to other treatments. Despite these advantages, ALK is not as useful as other vision correcting treatments when it comes to mild nearsightedness, and doctors have stopped using it as much because of the discovery of safer and more effective treatments.

Potential side effects include:
  • An elevated chance of developing astigmatism after having Keratoplasty surgery
  • Inability to wear contacts permanently
  • Scarring of the cornea
  • Possible glare

Treatment:

First the patient meets with his or her doctor to discuss their expectations and to run some tests on their eyes. The tests usually consist of measuring the thickness of the patient\'s cornea, refraction, and the pupil dilation. Certain types of contact lenses are discouraged for a couple of weeks before the surgery (i.e. rigid gas permeable contact lenses). Other types of contacts should not be worn for only a few days before the surgery. The day of the surgery, the patient should eat a light meal and avoid wearing any makeup around the eyes to make the procedure easier. During the surgery, the patient will be anesthetized. The doctor will put a small cut in the cornea and fold the flap back where he or she will then remove a small piece of the corneal tissue and put the flap back over. This whole procedure takes around the timeframe of one hour to complete.

Recovery from Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty:

When the flap is flipped back over the cornea, it will mend itself naturally, usually within a day. There will be a few weeks for stable vision to come back, so your doctor will usually prescribe some eye drops to prevent infection and inflammation and any other discomforts.

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