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Radial Keratotomy (RK)


Correcting Nearsightedness in Otherwise Healthy Eyes

Radial keratotomy (RK) is an elective procedure that is done to correct nearsightedness in otherwise healthy eyes. It involves making tiny cuts in the cornea, which flatten it and reduce nearsightedness. In people who have both astigmatism and nearsightedness, the surgeon may make additional cuts to flatten the misshapen part of the cornea that is causing the astigmatism. Because laser surgeries have become more common than surgeries that involve cutting (incisions), RK is not done very often.

Good candidates for RK have normal, healthy eyes with stable, mild-to-moderate nearsightedness (up to about 3 diopters) that is not getting worse with time. RK may also correct some amount of astigmatism.

Because the outcome of surgery on the first eye may affect how surgery is done on the second eye, many surgeons wait 6 weeks before treating the second eye. This delay also reduces the risk of spreading a corneal infection to the second eye. While waiting for the second procedure, you are usually fitted with a contact lens for the eye that is still nearsighted, since wearing two very different eyeglass prescriptions causes distorted vision.

PRK, LASEK, epi-LASIK, and LASIK surgery have replaced radial keratotomy as the refractive surgeries chosen by most people.

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