Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty (ALK) is a surgical treatment which can be used to correct the vision of people who suffer from severe nearsightedness or mild types of farsightedness. It differs from procedures such as LASIK and PRK in that there is no laser invovled. The healing time involved in ALK is fairly quick when compared to several other vision correction surgeries and it usually takes less time for stable vision to fully return to ALK patients. Also, ALK patients report a lot less pain and discomfort during the recovery period than in other methods. However, ALK is not as accurate as other vision correction treatments when used on mild or moderate nearsightedness. It’s worth noting that ALK is becoming less popular due to the rise in use of safer and more effective procedures.
The Procedure of Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty
Before undergoing the procedure you will usually meet with your surgeon to discuss your expectations, medical history and to test your eyes. The most common tests include measuring corneal thickness, refraction and pupil dilation. If you wear certain types of contact lenses it’s usually advised that you not wear them for a couple of weeks before surgery. On the day of the surgery it’s recommended that you eat only a light meal and not wear any eye make up. The ALK procedure is performed under a local anaesthetic, meaning you will be awake throughout, and takes around an hour to complete. Firstly a cutting implement called a microkeratome is used to make a small flap across the outer portion of the cornea. This flap is then folded back to reveal the corneal tissue below. Your surgeon will then remove a small disc of corneal tissue using a very precise cut and will then place the flap back where it will reattach naturally. The healing period for ALK is fairly quick and it usually takes only a day to mend but stable vision may take a few weeks to fully develop. It’s usual to be prescribed eye drops to control inflammation, prevent infection and help with any discomfort.
The Risks of Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty
As with any surgical procedure ALK is not without risks. ALK can slightly increase the risk of developing an irregular astigmatism and other side effects common to all types of keratoplasty include;
- Corneal Scarring
- Under/Over correction
- Inability to wear contact lenses