What Is Conductive Keratoplasty?
Conductive Keratoplasty (or ‘CK’) is an effective, predictable, and safe procedure used to correct long-sightedness and presbyopia which develops as we grow older. The treatment improves up-close vision and can offer freedom from reading glasses.
Who is a typical candidate for the treatment?
CK will benefit a person over the age of forty who has enjoyed good eyesight until reaching a point in middle age at which their vision of close objects or newsprint has become unfocused and blurry.
Unlike laser eye surgery, Conductive Keratoplasty does not require the removal of any tissue from the eye. Provided that you are healthy, neither diabetic nor pregnant and do not have a pacemaker you are likely to be suitable for Conductive Keratoplasty in the UK.
What Can Conductive Keratoplasty Treat?
CK can be used to treat hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia (aging eyes), as well as other similar conditions, but is unsuitable for treating short-sightedness (myopia).
- Presbyopia (ageing eyes): When we are young, the eye’s lens easily changes from distant to close-up vision, but as we age the lens can become firm and less flexible. This means you may find it harder to focus on objects and images closer to you. The condition becomes noticeable around the age of 40 with the effects aggravated between the ages of 60 and 80.
- Long-sightedness (hyperopia): Long-sightedness is a common condition which affects about a 25% of the UK population. People with long-sightedness can see distant objects very well, but have difficulty focusing on objects that are up-close.
- Astigmatism: Astigmatism is a refractive error and is usually the result of an irregular-shaped cornea or lens. As the light entering the eye is not focussed correctly, your vision is distorted and the images created will be blurred.
How Much Does Conductive Keratoplasty Cost In The UK?
The simplicity, effectiveness and success rate of Conductive Keratoplasty means that a great many ophthalmologists and specialist eye clinics across the UK include it in their range of treatments.
The cost of Conductive Keratoplasty in the UK, per eye treated, ranges from £1,000 to £1,200. In most cases the price of CK includes an initial consultation and assessment of the patient’s requirements, the Conductive Keratoplasty procedure itself and any aftercare required.
The procedure can be ‘topped up’ two or three times at five yearly intervals.Topping up Conductive Keratoplasty costs in the region of £500 per eye.
The Conductive Keratoplasty Procedure
The assessment for CK surgery will include a complete eye exam of the front and back of the eye, plus several additional tests. If you are longsighted, your near-reading ability will also be tested. Your eyes will be dilated and measurements of the shape and curvature of your cornea will be taken to help your surgeon plan the CK treatment.
Before: CK can be performed in the surgeon’s office. The surgeon will apply some anesthetic eye drops to your eyes and then use a small support device called a speculum to keep your eyelids open and prevent blinking.
During: The procedure is quick and painless, taking around 3 minutes to complete for each eye. Your surgeon will mark the cornea with an rinseable ink to guide the treatment. Next, a tiny probe is placed into the cornea and waves of radiofrequency energy are applied to the cornea. This causes shrinkage of the corneal tissue which sharpens and restores the eye’s focus on objects at short range. Since the eye is numb from the anesthetic drops you will have no sensation that this is occurring.
After: After the procedure is complete, you will be given time to rest your eye. It is a good idea to have someone drive you home from the clinic as it can take a few days for your vision to stabilise. Your eye may start to feel itchy following your surgery as the anaesthetic wears off and eye drops will be provided to keep the eye comfortable. You can also take a paracetamol or ibuprofen during this time.
Side Effects and Recovery from Conductive Keratoplasty
Following the procedure, it is likely the eye will be slightly irritated for the first couple of days. Most patients experience only mild irritation on the first night after the procedure and you will be administered eye drops in case of discomfort.
Your vision may be a sensitive during this time and so sunglasses are very useful. It’s also important not to rub your eyes. Some patients report a mild blurring of their vision in the distance, especially at night, but this always steadily improves over a few weeks after the procedure.
Your surgeon will see you the day after surgery, at which point the eye should feel more comfortable and recovery takes anywhere between 2 days to 2 weeks. There will then be several more check ups with the clinic in 1 to 3 weeks and another in 6 months to a year.
How soon can I return to work?
It is likely you will be able to resume your normal activities the day after the procedure. However, it is advisable to be careful and avoid any strenuous activities such as contact sports and environments where you may cause an infection (such as swimming pools or overly dusty workplaces). If your job demands intense clarity of vision (such as computing or surgery), you may want to give your eyes extra rest for several days before returning to work.
What Are The Risks and Complications of Conductive Keratoplasty?
As CK is a non-invasive form of surgery, the chances of a complication arising are very small. However, it is important to understand the risks of the surgery when considering the treatment:
As the surgery requires a small opening on the eye, there is the chance of an infection which can result in loss of vision. However, this is very uncommon as powerful antibiotics are used following surgery, the healing time is relatively quick and the post-operative check ups would present any forms of infection.
While increasingly rare, the operation can result in astigmatism in an eye where it was not initially present, which could lead to a requirement of additional surgery Typically, this astigmatism causes little effect on the vision.
Regression of effect
In some patients, the effects of CK may decrease with time. This is typically due to a natural continuation of the negative effects of presbyopia, with the lens becoming more rigid and less flexible. This regression does not cause loss of vision, as it can still be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, but you may find it frustrating to find the results of your treatment wearing off.
Benefits of Conductive Keratoplasty
- Very effective – 95% patients are able to read small print after the procedure
- As the operation is less invasive, it does not carry same risks as laser treatments
- Painless procedure with minimum discomfort during recovery
- Does not require any eye tissue removal, so less chance of infection
- Side-effects typically subside within twenty-four hours following operation
- Relatively quick – procedure takes three minutes per eye to complete
- Both eyes can be done in the same visit