In situations where there is scar tissue or an irregular corneal surface that affects the eye, the vision may become blurry or the eye may become uncomfortable. There are several surgical ways to reduce this scar tissue when glasses or contact lenses no longer work well for a patient. One of these methods is with a laser procedure called phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK). A corneal transplant is another treatment for scar tissue on the cornea. A corneal transplant replaces the scarred tissue with a new cornea. A corneal transplant can often take up to 18 months to heal. This is the reason that PTK is considered as an alternative for many patients. Your doctor will discuss your options depending on the amount of scar tissue that you have and how much pain or discomfort you are having.
Before the PTK Procedure
Before the surgical procedure is scheduled, you will undergo a complete eye examination. This examination will include a variety of standard ophthalmic tests, a review of your medical history, and other general medical tests.
The PTK Procedure
Phototherapeutic keratectomy, also called "PTK," is a procedure that is performed using the excimer laser concentrating the laser beams to remove only scarred or irregular corneal surface to improve vision or to reduce discomfort from recurrent erosions of the corneal tissue.
PTK surgery will be performed under a topical anesthetic, and there will be minimal discomfort during the actual procedure. You will be lying on your back during the procedure and a device called a lid speculum will be placed in your eye to hold it open. A modulating agent such as methylcellulose (pronounced meth-ul-sel-yu-los) is used to coat the depressions and expose the peaks in the cornea. The laser treatment is then carefully carried out with the goal to smooth the corneal surface removing any scar or irregularities. Immediately after the procedure, a bandage contact lens will be placed on your eye for comfort. Your ophthalmologist will usually remove the bandage contact lens about four to seven days after the procedure. You may experience some mild pain postoperatively; however, you will receive medications to help reduce any discomfort. The vision will fluctuate during the healing process, which can take as long as three to six months in some patients.
Even after the procedure you may still not have perfect vision and you may still need to wear contact lenses or glasses to get your best vision. Other more serious problems such as infection or scarring of the eye may potentially occur, but are unlikely.