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Millions of people are reliant on spectacles or contact lenses to see distant objects. Such people are near-sighted. Recently, a surgical procedure has become popular that promises to reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses or contacts. It is called Radial Keratotomy. How does it work? Does it really improve eyesight? And is it for you?

Radial keratotomy reshapes the cornea so that the focused image falls on the retina instead of in front of it, as occurs in near-sighted people. The surgeon achieves this reshaping by making radial incisions to the outer layers of the cornea toward the edge of the visual area. The result is that the center of vision becomes clearer.

Reshaping of the cornea is not a new procedure. As early as 1894, medical journals were reporting such medical procedures. Over the years the major advances in cornea surgery occurred in Russia. In the United States a study was done in the 1980’s to determine the effectiveness of the procedure. The result was that Radial Keratotomy was officially acknowledged by the American Academy of Opthalmology.

So, how do you know if this procedure is for you? The first thing for you to do would be to have a complete eye examination. The doctor will then ascertain your suitability for the procedure, based on your level of myopia. The more severe your condition, the lower the likelihood of success. If your doctor recommends you for the procedure, you will need to find a doctor who is competent at performing Radial Keratotomy. Among opthalmologists there is an increasing acceptance of RK surgery, so with a little investigation you should be able to find a practitioner with a consistent record of positive results.

If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, this is what you can expect:
(1) A pre-operative work-up that includes an eye examination, ultrasound measurements of the eye and its thickness, curvature measurements, eye-pressure measurements and possibly video computer-generated topography
(2) You will be given a consent form to sign, after which you will be given a sedative.
(3) Within 30 minutes of receiving the sedative you will be taken to the RK surgery suite. Your eyelids will be cleaned and a drape will be placed over your face. Your eyes will receive topical drops of anaesthetic. A lid speculum will be placed over the eye to prevent blinking.
(4) You will be instructed to focus on a light while the center of your vision is marked for the surgeon as a point to work from. A template is placed on the eye to mark out the surgery pattern.
(5) The surgery begins. 20 minutes later surgery is complete.
(6) The eye is covered for a period of time.

Within 24 hours you will begin to see improvements. Within 30 days your near sightedness should show a major improvement.

So, if you are contemplating RK surgery, the best advice is to get as informed as possible. Go to several RK surgeons before making a decision. Then you’ll be going into it with your eyes wide open.