Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

PhotoTherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK) is a form of treatment for various corneal conditions which include previous injury or other causes of corneal scarring. In some cases, it can also be used to treat breakdown of the corneal surface otherwise known as recurrent corneal erosion syndrome.

We work closely with you to determine the best treatment to restore your vision taking into account your suitability and how it fits with your lifestyle. 

Anatomy diagram of the cornea

What is involved in PTK laser eye surgery?

PTK is an elective surgical procedure offered to patients with anterior corneal pathology meaning irregularities or scarring on the corneal surface impacting vision.

  • Laser is applied to reduce any scarring or irregularities present at the front surface of the cornea
  • PTK can be combined with PRK to enhance or restore vision
PRK laser eye surgery - step 1

Before Surgery:

The irregular cornea surface prior to surgery requiring correction.

PRK laser eye surgery - step 2

Step 1:

Removal of the refractive component.

PRK laser eye surgery - step 3

Step 2:

Removal of the epathelial component.

PRK laser eye surgery - step 4

After Surgery:

The cornea regenerates with the correct refraction.

What are the benefits of PTK?

  • Suitable for patients with thin corneas
  • No flap created and therefore no risk of flap-related complications like detachment or displacement
  • PRK only removes a small amount of the cornea and hence less corneal thickness is removed

Who is suitable for PTK?

PTK is generally suitable for patients who suffer from anterior corneal diseases such as:

  • Damage related to a current or previous eye trauma or injury
  • Corneal Erosions
  • Cornea irregularities, Dystrophy or scarring

You may have already trialled previous prescription eye drops and bandage contact lenses to treat your condition with minimal effect. You will first need an assessment with the eye surgeon to assess your eyes and eligibility for this procedure.

What are the risks of PTK surgery?

It is very rare for complications to occur during the procedure. But there are short term and long term side-effects that may include but are not limited to:

  • Dry eyes
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Haloes and starbursts around lights
  • Glare sensitivity
  • Infection
  • Excessive thinning of the cornea leading to the need to wear glasses, contact lenses or in rare instances a corneal graft.

Preparing for Surgery

What to expect for your PTK surgery

Prior to surgery

  • If you wear contact lenses, you will need to be out of them for a certain time frame. Soft contact lenses are 3 days. Hard contact lenses are 3 weeks.
  • Be prepared to be at the day facility half an hour before your admission to ensure all paperwork has been finalised.
  • Wear comfortable, warm clothes as the laser room is set at a specific temperature and humidity to ensure ideal operating temperatures for the laser.
  • A staff member will explain what to expect inside the procedure room and prepare you for the laser. You will be given a sedation tablet to relax you prior the surgery. For this reason, it is important to organise someone to accompany you home on the day.

During the procedure

  • You will come into the surgery room and will be positioned underneath the laser.
  • The doctor will instil anaesthetic eye drops to provide a painless experience and a prop to hold your eyelids open.
  • During the procedure, you will be asked to focus on a flashing light. The laser is then applied to your eyes in order to remove any corneal surface irregularities present. This is only a very thin layer of your corneal tissue.
  • The actual PTK procedure takes about 10 minutes. Sometimes, this treatment can be used in conjunction with PRK to help improve or restore vision.
  • Once the treatment is complete, the eye surgeon will instil antibiotic and steroid drops. A therapeutic contact lens will be placed into your eye to help assist with healing and comfort.
  • You will then be escorted to a consulting room where you will have your post instructions explained to you. It is very important not to rub the eye after surgery as it can dislodge the contact lens. For this reason, a plastic eye shield will be given to wear at night to prevent eye rubbing whilst sleeping.

Post-operative recovery

  • You will be given prescription eye drops and instructions on when to use them. You will be required to wear a plastic shield to protect your eye from rubbing whilst sleeping. It is very important to follow the instructions your eye surgeon advises and to also attend all your follow up appointments.
  • During the healing period, you will experience discomfort, minor pain, grittiness, glare sensitivity and haloes around lights. This will progressively get better as the epithelium regenerates and it's very important to dedicate time to rest to allow for a quicker recovery.
  • After 3 days, you will be required to come back to have the bandage contact lens removed. After this, your eyes may feel very dry. This is part of the healing process. Our clinic will provide preservative-free lubricants for you to use as well. It is necessary to keep the eyes adequately lubricated after your treatment.
  • Most patients are able to see and return to work and normal activities after a few days. But each individual can vary with recovery time.

For a diagnosis and to discuss treatment options of any eye condition, please make an appointment.