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Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

Underlying Problem Requiring PTK Treatment:
Phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK) can be used in cases where the eye as been affected by scar tissue or an irregular surface on the cornea. Such conditions can result in blurred vision or discomfort. Corneal transplants may be used to treat patients with these conditions, depending on the amount of scar tissue or the extent of irregularity, but such transplants can take up to 18 months to heal. PTK is a less invasive, faster-healing alternative laser vision correction procedure for many patients.


Following a complete eye examination, a review of medical history, and general medical tests to assess eligibility for surgery, a doctor may determine that PTK is the best option. The treatment involves using an exciplex laser to remove scarred or irregular areas of the patientsí corneal surface without damaging healthy, normal tissue. The procedure can result in dramatically improved vision and/or diminished discomfort.

PTK surgery is performed while the patient is conscious, using a topical anesthetic, with the eyelid held open by a lid speculum. Depressions and peaks in the cornea are coated by a modulating agent, such as methylcellulose, which makes areas detectable for the laser. Very little discomfort is caused by the laser acting on the surface of the cornea. A bandage contact lens is applied following the operation and removed by a medical professional four to seven days later. Mild pain is common in the days following the operation, but pain medication is typically prescribed to help reduce discomfort. The healing process can take between three to six months, during which vision will fluctuate.

Recovery from PTK Surgery:

PTK dramatically improves vision in most patients, but it does not guarantee perfect vision; many patients still find it necessary to wear glasses or corrective lenses. Patients may not be able to drive for several weeks following surgery, depending on the extent of scarring or irregularities corrected. Unlikely side effects include infection or scarring of the eye. It is important for post-operative patients to report discoloration of the eye, excessive pain, or reduced vision to their doctor immediately.

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