The Cleveland Clinic

Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty Eye Surgery (ALK)

What is keratoplasty eye surgery?

Automated lamellar keratoplasty eye surgery, or ALK, is a surgical procedure used to correct vision in people with severe nearsightedness and mild degrees of farsightedness.

What Happens During Keratoplasty Eye Surgery?

Keratoplasty eye surgery, performed under local anesthesia, usually takes less than an hour to complete. A cutting device is used to make a small incomplete flap across the cornea. While still attached at one side, the corneal flap is folded back to reveal the layer of tissue below. Another, very precise cut is made on the sub layer of tissue based on the person's glasses' prescription. After this cut, the corneal flap is placed back over the eye where it reattaches.

What Are the Advantages of Keratoplasty Eye Surgery?

Compared to other vision repair surgeries:

  • The healing process for keratoplasty eye surgery is relatively quick
  • It takes less time for stable vision to return
  • Recovery period is more comfortable

What Are the Disadvantages of Keratoplasty Eye Surgery?

While keratoplasty eye surgery is a safe and effective surgery, it does have its disadvantages. They include:

  • For people with mild to moderate nearsightedness, keratoplasty eye surgery is not as accurate as other eye procedures, meaning that its outcome is more difficult to predict.
  • Keratoplasty eye surgery slightly increases a person's risk of developing an irregular astigmatism.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Keratoplasty Eye Surgery?

Aside from the above-mentioned disadvantages, side effects, though rare, do occur. These may include:

  • Glare
  • Inability to wear contacts, sometimes permanently
  • Infection
  • Corneal scarring

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