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Keratoplasty eye surgery (ALK)

Automated lamellar keratoplasty eye surgery, or ALK, is a older type of vision surgery carried out by making a flap in the cornea to help correct severe short-sightedness and long-sightedness.

ALK has become less common as newer, safer and more effective procedures have been developed.

What happens during keratoplasty eye surgery?

Keratoplasty eye surgery, performed under local anaesthetic, 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?

WebMD looks at the eye surgery called automated

Compared to other vision repair procedures:

  • 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 procedure, it does have its disadvantages. They include:

  • For people with mild to moderate short-sightedness, 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 contact lenses, sometimes permanently
  • Infection
  • Corneal scarring

How should I prepare for keratoplasty eye surgery?

Before your keratoplasty eye surgery, you will meet with an adviser who will discuss with you 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. When you meet the surgeon, ask any further questions you may have. Afterwards, you can schedule an appointment for the keratoplasty eye surgery.

Check with the eye clinic for specific advice but generally speaking, if you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses, you should not wear them during the three weeks before keratoplasty eye surgery. Other types of contact lenses shouldn't be worn for at least three days prior to keratoplasty eye surgery. Make sure you bring your glasses to the surgery so your prescription can be reviewed.

On the day of your keratoplasty eye surgery, eat a light meal before going to the clinic and take all of your prescribed medication. Do not wear eye makeup or have any bulky accessories in your hair that will interfere with the positioning of your head. If you do not feel well that morning, call the clinic to find out whether the keratoplasty eye surgery needs to be postponed.

What should I expect after keratoplasty eye surgery?

The healing time from keratoplasty eye surgery is short. It usually takes only about 24 hours to heal. But it may take a few weeks for your vision to finally stabilise.

Your eye surgeon will give you eye drops to control inflammation, discomfort, and prevent infection.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 27, 2016

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