Superficial Keratectomy is a laser surgery procedure designed to repair irregularities or erosion on the outer layer of the cornea, called the epithelium. SK is similar to Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK), but PTK removes deeper layers of tissue and is used to correct more severe corneal problems.
If the epithelium is irregularly shaped or clouded due to injury or disease, it can cause blurry vision. Irregularities in the outer layer can also cause irritation that can make erosion worse.
To correct this, laser surgery can be used, much in the same way that lasers are used in LASIK surgery to correct vision.
In an SK procedure, the excimer laser is used to remove a thin layer of the epithelium, creating a smoother surface and stimulating cell growth for healing. The procedure is considered minor surgery and is done on an outpatient basis. SK is often a preliminary treatment for cataract patients, if the cornea surface is irregular, because the irregularities make it difficult to determine what replacement or intraocular (IOL) lens should be used. SK smooths the cornea surface, and gives the ophthalmologist much better information for lens replacement and follow-up cataract treatment.
Topical numbing drops are first used to numb the eye. The excimer laser is then used to remove a thin, carefully targeted layer of tissue. Typically, the procedure only takes a few minutes. After a brief post-surgery recovery period, the patient can go home.
After the surgery, a contact lens bandage is placed in the eye to protect it, promote healing, and reduce discomfort. The patient may experience some mild scratchiness or a sensation of something in the eye while the healing process is taking place. Some patients may experience significant discomfort during the first 48 hours of the healing process. As part of the follow-up treatment, the ophthalmologist will prescribe a series of eye drops for the patient’s postoperative care. It’s important to strictly adhere to prescription directions to make sure the cornea heals properly and the surgical goal of smoothing the corneal surface is achieved.
Recovery may take a few days or weeks. 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 the follow-up treatment.
The cornea specialists at Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun have performed hundreds of PTK, SK, and similar procedures. Before any procedure, your ophthalmologist will perform a thorough eye examination and work with you to determine the best possible treatment plan. To schedule an appointment, call (865) 584-0905.