Phototherapeutic Keratectomy is a surgical procedure that can provide relief and healing for patients suffering from irregularities or erosion of the epithelium, the outer layer of the cornea.
An irregularly shaped or clouded corneal epithelium can cause blurry vision, because the layer isn’t clear or smooth. PTK is a minor surgical treatment that uses an excimer laser to treat the cornea surface. The excimer laser is the same equipment used in LASIK surgery to improve vision. The laser removes a thin outer layer of tissue, providing a smoother, more consistent surface to promote healing. It is similar to Superficial Keratectomy (SK), which removes a thinner layer of cells than PTK, but it doesn’t use a laser.
PTK and SK are also often used for cataract patients. For a patient planning cataract surgery where an intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted to replace a clouded natural lens, it can be difficult to calculate the replacement lens power if the corneal surface is irregular. PTK and SK can help smooth the surface of the cornea so the cataract treatment plan is more effective, resulting in a better visual outcome after surgery.
In the procedure, an alcohol solution is applied to the eye to remove an initial layer of cells. Then the laser is used to remove a thicker (but still very thin) layer. The procedure itself is typically not painful, since numbing drops are used in the eyes. Afterward, there may be some soreness and scratchiness, so a contact lens bandage is put into place to protect the eye and reduce pain. The physician also provides a series of antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing eye drops that must be applied as prescribed.
Recovery may take a few days or weeks. PTK has been used for more than 20 years and with a high success rate. Risks involved with the procedure may include scarring, infection, or slow healing, although your physician will take steps to minimize these risks throughout the procedure and follow up treatment.
The cornea specialists at Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun will perform a thorough eye examination and work with you to determine if PTK is the best possible treatment plan.
To schedule an appointment, call (865) 584-0905.