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Radial Keratotomy and Astigmatic keratotomy

Radial keratotomy is no longer offered as a treatment, but astigmatic keratotomy is often used to fine tune focusing errors after cataract or other refractive surgeries. The following information is mostly historical.

Radial Keratotomy is surgery to improve myopia by changing the curvature of the cornea over the pupil. Using a microscope and microsurgical instruments, the Surgeon makes several deep cuts or incisions (keratotomies) into the cornea in a radial, or spoke-like, pattern.

The operation takes less than 30 minutes and is usually performed using eye drops to anaesthetise the cornea. It is used to treat myopia from -ID to -4D, but is seldom use dnow as laser techniques are safer, produce much improved results and can be used on wider range of refractive errors.

Astigmatic keratotomy consists of making peripeheral arcuate incisions into the cornea for correcting astigmatism. Thsis use dmore commonly, especialy in associaiton with cataract surgery and also alone in milder degrees of astigmatism.

Approximately 90% of people suitable for RK could, following their surgery, pass a drivers test without glasses or contact lenses. The final visual outcome for any one individual cannot be precisely predicted.


Complications at the time of surgery are rare but can be serious. After RK the cornea heals slowly, and concerns remain about the side effects of this delayed corneal healing.

There may be:

  • Fluctuating vision, especially in the first few months after surgery.
  • A weakened cornea, more vulnerable to rupture if hit directly.
  • The need for additional refractive surgery in 30% of patients.
  • Difficulty fitting contact lenses.
  • Glare or starbursts around lights.
  • Temporary pain.
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