Updated on 

May 5, 2022

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Conductive Keratoplasty

What is Conductive Keratoplasty (CK Eye Surgery)?

Conductive keratoplasty (CK) is a procedure that corrects farsightedness (with or without astigmatism).

It's not laser vision correction surgery. Instead, radiofrequency energy is used to change the curvature of the cornea.

This non-invasive procedure helps correct presbyopia and hyperopia (farsightedness). Presbyopia is a normal aging process that affects near visual acuity over time. 

Some prefer CK for the following reasons:

  • No use of laser
  • No removal of tissue
  • No cutting of tissue
  • No change to the central cornea

Other eye surgeries can correct these refractive errors, like LASIK or photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). However a CK procedure is noninvasive, costs less, and is just as effective.

The CK procedure is trademarked by Refractec Inc. under the name NearVision CK.

How Much Does CK Eye Surgery Cost?

Insurance companies don't cover conductive keratoplasty, making it an elective procedure. This means prices will differ depending on various factors. Some of these include the surgeon’s experience, the location of the clinic, and more. 

The price range for this type of surgery runs between $1,000 and $2,000 per eye. However, the price can be higher. 

It's best to speak with the ophthalmology clinic to consider all financing options, including monthly payments or an interest-fixed loan.

How Does Conductive Keratoplasty Work?

The CK procedure only takes a few minutes. An eye doctor uses a small tool (keratoplast tip) to send low-level radio frequencies into your cornea. This raises the temperature of the thickest layer of your cornea, shrinking the collagen in your tissue.

This shrinkage tightens the middle of your cornea, making your cornea more curved. This gives it stronger refractive power and corrects your near vision.

Most people notice better near vision immediately. However, it usually takes a few weeks for full correction to settle in.

Conductive Keratoplasty Procedure Steps

Eye surgeons will use different techniques to perform conductive keratoplasty.

Here's an example of a CK procedure may occur:

  1. You'll receive a local anesthetic (eye drops), as well as antibiotics.
  2. The eye surgeon uses a speculum to prevent the eye from blinking. He also marks the visual axis with an inked tool called the Sinsky hook.
  3. The surgeon then centers the inked CK marker over the visual axis and applies it to the cornea. 
  4. A sponge is used to dry the cornea. This prevents any complications that could arise through the spread of energy by a wet surface.
  5. The surgeon sets the CK console's power and duration and places a sterile keratoplast tip on a sterile handpiece. 
  6. A tool called the nomogram helps guide the surgeon as the keratoplast tip is inserted into the cornea in the marked areas.
  7. The degree of vision correction at a given spot will depend on how much pressure the surgeon places using the tip. 
  8. The patient receives antibiotic eye drops and a soft contact lens over the cornea.

The patient should stop wearing soft contact lenses at least 2 weeks before the examination. In the case of rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, individuals should discontinue use at least 4 weeks before the procedure, plus 1 additional week for every 10 years.

Benefits of Conductive Keratoplasty

Conductive keratoplasty offers many benefits:

  • Equal or better results than other types of refractive surgery. Studies show that CK is equally or more effective as other vision correction procedures for farsightedness and cornea issues.2 
  • Fewer complications and side effects. Many who undergo this type of procedure report a foreign-body sensation and light sensitivity for the first few days after surgery. 
  • Reduces the need for reading eyeglasses. Conductive keratoplasty can help delay presbyopia progression, and with that, the dependence on reading eyewear. 
  • Low risk of re-treatments. Those who opt for this procedure don't usually need to follow-up treatments due to complications or poor outcomes. 

Overall uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA) of 20/40 or better has been reported in 89% of CK patients with hyperopia or astigmatism.2

Monovision CK

Monovision is a type of vision correction where one eye is corrected for near vision while the other is stronger for distance vision. If you have presbyopia but good distance vision, your surgeon may recommend CK on one eye.

Before eye surgery, your doctor may advise you to try monovision correction with contact lenses. This will help you determine whether you can adapt to monovision.

If this is successful, you may be a good candidate for monovision CK.

Conductive Keratoplasty Side Effects

The majority of CK side-effects are temporary, and include:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Slight nearsightedness
  • Visual regression resulting in the need for additional treatments or alternative vision correction

Who is a Candidate for Conductive Keratoplasty?

Those who aren't good candidates for LASIK surgery may find conductive keratoplasty more suitable.

Reasons can include problems with the eye’s anatomical structure (small corneal diameter, etc) or psychological concerns (fear of laser use or removal of corneal tissue, etc.).

The ideal candidate for conductive keratoplasty have the following characteristics:

  • Are 40 years or older 
  • Between +0.75 and +2.50 diopters of correction 
  • Lower than .75 diopters of astigmatism 
  • Have presbyopia 

Those who shouldn't undergo this type of refractive procedure include:

  • Females who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Corneal dystrophies or corneal scarring within the central 6-7 mm optical zone 
  • A history of keratitis
  • Autoimmune or collagen vascular disease
  • Immunocompromised 
  • Advanced atopic disease
  • Diabetes (insulin-dependent)
  • People with dry eye or other eye diseases

Those who have a pacemaker should not undergo this procedure, as radio waves emitted during the surgery may affect the device’s performance. 

6 Cited Research Articles
  1. Conductive Keratoplasty.” University of Utah Health
  2. Du, Ted T; Fan, et al. "Conductive keratoplasty." Current Opinion in Ophthalmology: July 2007 - Volume 18 - Issue 4 - p 334-337.
  3. McDonald, Marguerite B. “Conductive keratoplasty: a radiofrequency-based technique for the correction of hyperopia.” Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society vol. 103 : 512-36.
  4. Keratoconus New Jersey: Conductive Keratoplasty New Jersey.” Cornea & Laser Eye Institute, 1 Sept. 2021.
  5. Conductive Keratoplasty l Trusted LASIK Surgeons.” l Trusted LASIK Surgeons.
  6. Refractive & LASIK.” Port Huron Ophthalmology .
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Anthony Armenta earned his B.A. in International Relations from the University of California, Irvine. After graduation, he decided to live abroad in Spain. Currently, he has spent the past 5 years working as a freelance health content writer and medical editor for different public hospitals in central Barcelona. He has covered different medical specialties from infectious diseases and pneumology to breast cancer and plastic surgery. His commitment to writing fact-driven, health-related content stems from the belief that such type of information can empower all individuals to take action and improve their health today.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/anthony/
Author: Anthony Armenta  | UPDATED May 5, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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