Photo-therapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

What is Photo-therapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)?

Photo-therapeutic keratectomy uses an excimer laser to treat conditions affecting the surface of the cornea. PTK is performed by removing the epithelium (or outer skin of the cornea) and then applying the laser to the surface of the cornea. The goal is to produce a smoother and clearer cornea, or to enable the epithelium to bond better to the rest of the cornea to prevent problems such as recurrent corneal erosion. It does not reduce dependency upon spectacles or contact lenses.

The procedure

Anaesthetic eye drops are used to numb the surface of your eyes. A clean drape will be applied around your eye, and an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure. You will be asked to look at a target light while the epithelium, a thin layer of protective skin that cover the cornea, is removed with a fine spatula. The laser will then treat your cornea. It is important to continue looking at the target light whilst the laser treatment is taking place. The laser treatment will be finished in less than a minute or two, depending on the amount of treatment needed. Your eye(s) will then be examined at the slit lamp microscope. Sometimes a little more laser treatment will be done that day, until the cornea is smooth and clear.

What to expect post-op

Your vision will be blurry or hazy for the first few days. You will experience some discomfort as the epithelium heals and covers the treated area. Your eye will be gritty, red, watery and sensitive to light, especially during the first week, but this will gradually improve. Cool compresses, regular pain tablets and eye drops will be used to minimise this discomfort. You will either use an eye pad for 2 days, or use a soft bandage contact lens for up to 1 week. Most patients resume normal activities after the first week, sometimes earlier. Vision can fluctuate for up to 6 months.

Am I suitable?

PTK is used for those of any age who have corneal surface diseases such as:

  • Recurrent epithelial erosion syndrome. When treating recurrent corneal erosions, PTK may need to be carried out more than once.
  • Shallow corneal scars.
  • Corneal dystrophies, such as lattice dystrophy or granular dystrophy.