The cornea is the transparent front layer of the eye that protects the eye from bacteria and debris. It also plays an integral part in clear vision. When a cornea becomes damaged, scarred or opaque, a superficial keratectomy (SK) procedure may be necessary to restore clear vision. The procedure involves removing damaged cells on the epithelium, the outermost layer of the cornea, and then smoothing the corneal surface.
The eye surgeons at Texas Eye and Laser Center have years of experience performing corneal procedures, including SK. To determine whether SK is right for you, please schedule a consultation with us. Or, continue reading to learn more about SK.
When Is Superficial Keratectomy Necessary?
SK is designed to treat common ocular surface diseases including:
- Anterior basement membrane dystrophy, an abnormality of the epithelium and basement membrane that causes corneal erosions or scar tissue formation.
- Salzmann’s nodular degeneration, which is characterized by callous-like scar tissue that forms under the corneal epithelium. The condition commonly occurs due to corneal inflammation.
- Calcific band keratopathy, the accumulation of calcium in the anterior cornea due to corneal disease, intraocular disease or hereditary deposition.
- Other anterior opacities that do not involve deeper layers of the cornea.
Patients with ocular surface diseases can experience a variety of symptoms including dryness, irritation, pain, recurrent erosion and blurred vision. Early and minor symptoms of these diseases can be managed through eye lubrication and other medications. However, more severe cases may require surgical intervention.
About Superficial Keratectomy
SK is designed to remove scar tissue and defective surface cells that form on the surface of the cornea. In this procedure, the corneal epithelial surface cells are removed and then the scar tissue is peeled off the front of the cornea. Healthy epithelial cells will then heal over several days following the procedure.
When the corneal tissue extends into the upper portions of the cornea’s stromal layer, an excimer laser is used, instead of the handheld instrument, to remove the scar tissue, in a procedure called phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK). Prior to your procedure, our team will conduct a thorough eye examination of your eye, in order to determine which treatment is best for your condition.
SK is an in-office procedure that can be completed in about 20 minutes. Prior to treatment, the eyes will be numbed to ensure patient comfort. Our doctors will mechanically remove the diseased epithelium using a blunt, handheld instrument, similar to a tiny spatula. A diamond burr is also used to smooth out the corneal surface smoothly and finely. Once finished, a bandage contact lens will be placed on the eye to protect the healing cells and minimize discomfort.
Most patients are able to resume normal activities a few days after surgery. We will prescribe eye drops to minimize discomfort and aid in healing. Temporary post-op side effects include a mild scratching sensation or light sensitivity. Anti-inflammatory drops can be used to promote good healing. We will remove the temporary bandage contact within one week after surgery. Vision typically improves within two weeks after surgery and should stabilize within two months after surgery.
Learn More from Texas Eye and Laser Center
To learn more about SK, please call the trusted eye surgeons at Texas Eye and Laser Center. Schedule your one-on-one consultation by calling (817) 540-6060 today.