Like most Baby Boomers, William Carroll viewed his reading glasses as an unwelcome sign of aging.
So when the Carlsbad resident heard about a non-invasive vision procedure that could potentially eliminate his dependence on reading glasses, he immediately made an appointment with his ophthalmologist to learn more.
Carroll elected to undergo a relatively new refractive surgery, called Conductive Keratoplasty or “CK” for short, that is specifically designed for patients over 40 for the reduction of farsightedness. Unlike LASIK eye surgery, which corrects either near or far vision or leaves patients with monocular vision (one eye sees far, the other near), CK tends to give patients a blended vision.
CK is a quick and easy outpatient procedure. It takes about three minutes, and most patients can see results right away. In fact, most people — such as Carroll — are able to return to work the next day.
“The potential risks are small because the procedure is minimally invasive,” said Daniel Coden, MD, an ophthalmologist at Scripps Mericos Eye Institute, which began offering CK in July 2003. “CK is a non-laser procedure that does not involve cutting or removal of tissue.”
CK is not intended for people with nearsightedness, and it’s not for people with advanced degrees of “hyperopia” or farsightedness.
“The best candidates are those people who have had good vision all their life but are over 40 now and finding themselves having difficulty seeing the computer screen, reading a menu or driving at night,” says Dr. Coden.
The procedure, which usually takes from three to five minutes per eye, is performed using numbing eye drops. A probe that releases radio-frequency energy is used to apply heat to points in a circle on the surface of the eye around the edge of the cornea. The heat shrinks and tightens the collagen and pulls it tighter like a belt, increasing the curvature of the cornea to correct the farsightedness.
According to clinical trial data, CK provided a restoration to normal vision in 93 percent of patients. That figure exceeds the FDA guideline of 85 percent restoration to normal vision for refractive surgical procedures like LASIK.
Side effects from CK can include temporary dryness or scratchiness in the corrected eye(s) and induced astigmatism, which generally resolves quickly.
Although no one can avoid presbyopia or “aging eyes”, the procedure can turn back the clock five or 10 years for many people, says Dr. Coden. And for most people, that’s enough.
“I couldn’t see anything up close before and now my near vision has greatly improved, and even my far vision is getting better each day,” says Carroll. “You can’t ask for anything more than that.”