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Introduction to LTK Laser eye Surgery

Laser thermokeratoplasty, or LTK laser eye surgery, is a new procedure used to treat farsightedness and astigmatism.

During LTK laser eye surgery, a laser beam uses heat to shrink and reshape the cornea. Vision problems from farsightedness or astigmatism are corrected in a matter of seconds, without any cutting or removal of tissue.

Although highly effective in the short-term, the results of LTK laser eye surgery are not permanent. Your vision gradually regresses, mostly during the first three months following LTK laser eye surgery. To compensate, the doctor will intentionally overcorrect, so you end up with your desired vision.

What are the advantages of LTK laser eye surgery?

The advantages of LTK laser eye surgery include:

  • Little risk of infection or vision loss since the laser is the only thing that touches the eye during LTK laser eye surgery.
  • LTK laser eye surgery s very fast.
  • Little discomfort results from LTK laser eye surgery and patients are often able to resume normal activities the following day.

What Are the Disadvantages of LTK Laser Eye Surgery?

The disadvantages of LTK laser eye surgery include:

  • LTK laser eye surgery is not permanent.
  • Patients experience temporary nearsightedness following the procedure since over-correction of vision is required to account for regression. Some patients may even need to wear glasses for a few weeks following LTK laser eye surgery.
  • It is common for people who have had the LTK laser eye surgery to lose about half of the corrective effects within two years of the surgery.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of LTK Laser Eye Surgery?

Other than nearsightedness, you may also feel as if you have a foreign object in your eye. But this sensation should go away after the first day with the help of eye drops given to you by your doctor. You may also experience sensitivity to light the first day or so following LTK laser eye surgery, but pain or other discomfort is rarely associated with this procedure.

Who's a Candidate for LTK Laser Eye Surgery?

Due to its non-permanent effects, LTK laser eye surgery is only performed in people over the age of 40 who are mildly farsighted. Other than age, the qualifications for this surgery are the same as the qualifications for any refractive surgery.

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How Should I Prepare for LTK Laser Eye Surgery?

Before your LTK laser eye surgery you will meet with a coordinator who will discuss what you should expect during and after the surgery. During this session your medical history will be evaluated and your eyes will be tested. Likely tests include measuring corneal thickness, refraction, and pupil dilation. Once you have gone through your evaluation, you will meet the surgeon, who will answer any further questions you may have. Afterwards, you can schedule an appointment for the procedure.

If you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses, you should not wear them for three weeks before your surgery. Other types of contact lenses shouldn't be worn for at least three days prior to surgery. Be sure to bring your eyeglasses to the surgeon so your prescription can be reviewed.

On the day of your surgery, eat a light meal before going to the doctor and take all of your prescribed medications. Do not wear eye makeup or have any bulky accessories in your hair that will interfere with positioning your head under the laser. If you do not feel well that morning, call the doctor's office to determine whether the procedure needs to be postponed.

What Happens During the LTK Laser Eye Surgery?

LTK laser eye surgery is done under a local anesthesia. During LTK laser eye surgery, a laser beam uses heat to shrink and reshape the cornea. Vision is corrected in a matter of seconds, without any cutting or removal of tissue.

What Should I Expect After LTK Laser Eye Surgery?

After LTK laser eye surgery, most doctors will schedule follow-up appointments for the next day as well as for one week, one month, and 3-6 months after LTK laser eye surgery. To prevent infection or any irritation that may occur, you will be given antibiotic drops as well as anti-inflammatory drops to take for one week after LTK laser eye surgery.

As previously mentioned, for the first week after LTK laser eye surgery it is common to experience nearsightedness, however as the regression slows your distance vision will improve considerably. From the end of the first week to 3 months following LTK laser eye surgery, you should expect some fluctuations of vision.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.




Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, WebMD, October 2004.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005

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Reviewed on 6/30/2005
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