Radial Keratotomy was one of the common ways of treating nearsightedness, also known as myopia. However, with the rise of newer procedures, such as LASIK, it is now generally considered outdated.
In a radial Keratotomy procedure, the surgeon makes tiny but deep incisions, in the cornea with the goal of flattening it. Since myopia generally results in excessive curvature of the cornea, this procedure can generally help to reduce the nearsightedness as well as astigmatism.
Risks & complications
Though most patients generally praised the effects of Radial Keratotomy, many have suffered permanent vision damage as well as other long-term complications. Some of the complications are:
Weakened corneas: The corneal incisions done during this procedure heal in the wake of the surgery, but those sections of the cornea do not regain their strength fully. Therefore, patients who have undergone the procedure often deal with permanently weakened corneas. The extent of the damage generally depends on the extent of the original surgery.
Risk of rupture: Since the incisions do not heal fully, they can leave the eye more vulnerable to rupture. Any trauma might cause the incisions to rupture and reopen, which can cause infection, astigmatism, and other serious problems. Patients who have gone through the procedure are therefore strongly encouraged to wear protective eyewear during contact sports or any such activities where their eyes might be vulnerable.
Ocular infections or inflammation: Radial Keratotomy incisions heal slowly and sometimes incompletely. As a result, an eye that has undergone the procedure can be more prone to infection or irritation than an eye that has not. Even minor trauma or contact, like rubbing the eyes—can irritate the incision scars which can cause bacterial infections. Irritation or trauma might also cause blood vessels to grow into the incisions, which can damage or destroy the cornea permanently.
Light sensitivity: Some patients who undergo the procedure might have the incisions extending into their pupil or their visual axis. This might cause mild to severe light sensitivity or photophobia and require the patient to wear dark glasses for improving these symptoms.
Irregular astigmatism: Since the results of the procedure are unpredictable in the way they heal long term, the patient may end up with irregular astigmatism and might also require specialty contact lenses in order to achieve their visual potential.
In addition to these complications and risks, the patients of this procedure might also experience dry eyes, double or triple vision. Also, according to a few studies, patients who undergo radial Keratotomy to treat nearsightedness, eventually, shift towards farsightedness.