Some patients suffer from scarring affecting the corneas (the front windows of the eyes), if this includes you there are options including laser eye surgery available to treat this.
Scar tissue can develop at any point in a person’s life, it could be caused by a physically traumatic incident such as direct trauma to the eye or as a result of an infection in the eye. The scar tissue can cause a number of problems such as distorted or blurred vision and, in some cases, discomfort in the eye.
One treatment option for corneal scarring is Photo-Therapeutic Keratectomy (PTK). This is laser surgery that is used specifically to treat corneal scarring or disease. As well as treating scars on the cornea it can be used to treat other types of corneal surface disease, including recurrent erosion syndrome and corneal dystrophies where there are deposits in the top layers of the cornea.
PTK isn’t primarily carried out for vision correction but for therapeutic reasons. It is possible, once you have undergone PTK surgery, to then go on to have surgery to correct your vision, for example LASEK or PRK laser eye surgery. This will depend on how much cornea is left once the scarring is removed. Our surgeon will happily discuss all options with you before and after your surgery.
Laser therapies are medical treatments that use a focussed beam of light. A laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is unlike most light sources as it is tuned to specific wavelengths. The benefit of this means that it can be focussed into powerful beams. This increased intensity allows surgeons to work at extremely high levels of precision, it means they are able to focus on a small area and in the case of the Excimer laser reduce damage caused to surrounding tissues.
If you have looked down the path of more traditional treatments, such as a corneal transplant, and found that it wasn’t an option for you, the innovations in laser technology have made it possible for us to treat a growing number of cases, meaning you may be suitable for PTK. The reported benefits of this laser therapy include less pain, swelling and scarring compared to the results of traditional, more invasive surgery.
During the PTK surgery the first layer of the cornea, the epithelium, is removed using either alcohol or laser depending on the underlying problem. The excimer laser is then applied to the cornea removing a very thin layer of cells which helps smooth out irregularities and remove scar tissue.
After the surgery a protective contact lens is put in place over your eye to allow it to heal and to also reduce pain. You will also be given antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and lubricating drops to aid your recovery and prevent infection.
You should relax for the next few days to aid the healing and recovery process. We would advise you to take at least a week off work to avoid straining your eyes. You should avoid touching and rubbing your eyes whilst they are healing as this could lead to infection and delay the healing process.
Following your procedure, you may notice your eyesight is blurred. This gradually improves once the top layer has healed which typically takes 3-4 days. The final outcome is realised at around 3 months following the procedure.
PTK as a procedure has been successfully carried out for over 10 years now and is very effective for select cases. It is not suitable for all cases of corneal scarring especially those that involve the deeper layers of the cornea. If this is the case, then a corneal transplant may be more appropriate.
To book an initial consultation to see if you are suitable for PTK please get in touch.