RK (Radial Keratotomy)

Near-sightedness and astigmatism are refractive errors (vision problems) characterised by excessive and irregular curvature of the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye. Both conditions cause images to be out of focus and blurry, which can be managed by wearing glasses. Radial keratotomy (RK) is a surgical procedure to correct near-sightedness and mild forms of astigmatism by making small cuts and flattening out the cornea to its correct curvature.

You are a good candidate for RK if you have mild refractive errors and healthy eyes. Before the procedure, you are advised to stop wearing contact lenses for a period of time. The procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes and is performed after instilling anaesthetic drops into your eyes. Your doctor makes four to eight incisions from the edge of the cornea towards its centre to reduce corneal curvature. A patch or contact lens is then placed over the eye.

The procedure is usually performed on one eye and its outcome assessed, and any alterations in technique considered before the other eye is treated in about 6 weeks. In the meantime, you are given glasses or contact lenses for your untreated eye. You may experience some discomfort for 1 to 4 days after the procedure, which is normal. Your doctor will prescribe eye drops for inflammation, irritation and infection. Vision is initially blurry but improves over a few weeks.

Radial keratotomy, like any other procedure, may be associated with certain complications such as an unpredictable outcome with either under or overcorrection (farsightedness), a weakened cornea, fluctuating vision, double vision, glare or halo formation.

Radial keratotomy can completely correct mild cases of near-sightedness or astigmatism without the need for glasses or contact lens. In severe cases, however new glasses or contact lenses with a much lower refractive power are prescribed following the procedure.

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