Conductive Keratoplasty - Laser Eye Surgery Guide

Conductive keratoplasty (CK) is a surgical method of correcting the eye disorder of presbyopia in patients who have reached middle age. This disorder is the reason behind requiring reading glasses upon reaching the age of around 40 and onwards. CK is a procedure that can effectively remove the need for reading glasses by eliminating this issue.

The procedure itself is barely invasive as it employs tiny radio waves to make the muscle fibres in the cornea shrink in size. This shrinking results in the cornea altering in shape to resolve the presbyopia, which is more commonly known as long-sightedness.

The CK surgery is very quick to perform and tends to only take approximately 3 minutes per eye. It is rather common for the surgeon to only perform CK on one of the eyes so as not to inhibit distance vision.

Unlike eye surgery techniques such as LASIK, LASEK and PRK, CK does not require the use of a laser. Instead, radio waves are used. Not only is there this difference but also CK is only performed on patients who has reached middle age, whereas the other methods are done on anyone, provided they are over the age of 21 years old.

Am I a suitable candidate for CK?

The primary requirement for you to be considered for CK is if you have reached middle age – this is generally older than 40 years old. You should also be of good mental and physical health and have developed a requirement for reading glasses.

Other factors that your surgeon will analyse when determining your suitability include you reasons for wishing to undergo the procedure as well as the condition of your eyes.

Presbyopia is a condition that will affect all of our eyes, as we get older. It occurs as the muscle fibres lose elasticity and therefore their focusing power is limited so reading is harder.

Potential risks associated with CK

Generally speaking, CK is an extremely safe procedure and carries minimal risks with it. However, it is still a surgical treatment and no surgery is completely risk-free. It has been noted that whilst the vast majority of CK patients are happy and satisfied with the outcome of the procedure, there has been the occasional complain of a complication or side effect.

The only known complication of CK is vision disruption. This seems to be in the form of slight distortion. If you suffer from this complication after your procedure then you will most likely require further surgery.

Benefits of CK

The key benefit that is most promoted and obvious with CK is the elimination of the need for reading glasses. This can make everyday life easier and save money that you would otherwise have had to spend on new glasses every year as your prescription changes.

Your CK consultation

The consultation is an important part of the CK procedure. It is carried out before you undergo the surgery and should be conducted by the surgeon who will perform it.

During this appointment you should take the time to get to know and trust the surgeon and ensure they are the right medical professional for you. To be sure of this you may wish to consider what qualifications they have as well as their skills and experience. It may be worth booking consultations with a number of different surgeons so you can select the one who is best suited to you and who can answer any questions you have with satisfactory answers.

Before going to your consultation(s), you should compile a list of all the questions about the procedure and recovery that pop into your head, no matter how silly or irrelevant they may sound. You can then tick each question off the list when you have received the answer. For examples and ideas about what types of questions you may wish to ask, you can look at our section labelled 'Laser Eye Surgery: General FAQs'.

At the end of your consultation, the surgeon should be able to provide you with an accurate quote as to how much your procedure will cost. This price will vary depending on the clinic, surgeon and technology so it may be worth shopping around for the best deal. However, as a rough guide, you should be prepared to spend approximately £1000 per eye.

The CK procedure

Before any surgery can commence, you will have your eye held open by a specially designed clip. This prevents any blinking and interruption to the procedure. Once in place, your surgeon will use temporary ink to create a template on your eye to act as a guide through the CK surgery.

The next step involves the surgeon taking a tiny probe. This probe emits radio waves, which will be guided around the template. The purpose of these radio waves is the force the fibres of the cornea to contract.

The cornea contracting leads to the curvature of the eye increasing. This is a vital part of improving near vision. Sometimes this can create a level of short-sightedness and you may eve require visual aids such as glasses or contact lenses to see objects quite a distance away.

How long can I expect the results of my CK procedure to last?

It has been proven that the results of CK are only temporary. This is due to the inevitable vision degradation as we age so our eye prescription is ever changing. You can, however, undergo further surgery in an attempt to counteract this aging issue.

The recovery period after CK

Just like the procedure itself, the recovery period of CK is extremely quick. You may notice a low level of discomfort after your procedure but this should subside rapidly. To speed up the process further, try to avoid touching your eyes.

The results should be visible immediately and you should be capable or returning to your everyday routine the day following your CK surgery, although you should take it easy.