Updated on  December 7, 2023
5 min read

Conductive Keratoplasty

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Key Takeaways

  • Conductive keratoplasty (CK) is a type of refractive surgery used to correct farsightedness with radio waves.
  • The procedure is minimally invasive and has fewer complications and side effects than other vision correction procedures.
  • Consult your doctor to determine if you are a suitable candidate for CK.

What is Conductive Keratoplasty (CK Eye Surgery)?

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

Conductive Keratoplasty Eye Surgery Stock Vector

It's not laser vision correction surgery. Instead, radiofrequency energy changes 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 people prefer CK because it involves no:

  • Use of laser
  • Removal of tissue
  • Cutting of tissue
  • Change to the central cornea

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

Ideal Candidates 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 has the following characteristics:

  • Aged 40 years or older 
  • Needs correction between +0.75 and +2.50 diopters 
  • Has lower than .75 diopters of astigmatism 
  • Has presbyopia 

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

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have corneal dystrophies or corneal scarring within the central 6-7 mm optical zone 
  • Have a history of keratitis
  • Have autoimmune or collagen vascular disease
  • Are ammunocompromised 
  • Have advanced atopic disease
  • Have diabetes (insulin-dependent)
  • Have dry eye or other eye diseases

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

Benefits of Conductive Keratoplasty

Conductive keratoplasty offers many benefits:

  • Equal or better results than other types of refractive surgery. Studies show CK is equally or more effective than other vision correction procedures for farsightedness and cornea issues.2 
  • Fewer complications and side effects. Many who undergo this 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 the dependence on reading eye wear. 
  • Low risk of re-treatments. Those who opt for this procedure don't usually need follow-up treatments as a result of 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

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. These include the surgeon’s experience and the location of the clinic. 

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

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

Conductive Keratoplasty Procedure Steps

Eye surgeons use different techniques to perform conductive keratoplasty.

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

  1. You'll receive a local anesthetic (eye drops) and antibiotics.
  2. The eye surgeon then uses a speculum to prevent the eye from blinking. They also mark the visual axis with an inked tool called a Sinsky hook.
  3. The surgeon centers the inked CK marker over the visual axis and applies it to the cornea. 
  4. They will then use a sponge to dry the cornea. This prevents any complications that could arise.
  5. The surgeon sets the CK console's power and duration and places a sterile keratoplast tip on a sterile hand piece. 
  6. A nomogram tool guides the surgeon as they insert the keratoplast tip 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. You will then receive antibiotic eye drops and a soft contact lens to put over the cornea.

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

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.

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
Updated on  December 7, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on  December 7, 2023
  1. Conductive Keratoplasty.” University of Utah Health

  2. Du TT, Fan, VC, Asbell, PA. "Conductive keratoplasty." Current Opinion in Ophthalmology, 2007.

  3. McDonald, MB. “Conductive keratoplasty: a radiofrequency-based technique for the correction of hyperopia.” Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society, 2005.

  4. Keratoconus New Jersey: Conductive Keratoplasty New Jersey.” Cornea & Laser Eye Institute, 2021.

  5. Conductive Keratoplasty” Trusted LASIK Surgeons.

  6. Refractive & LASIK.” Port Huron Ophthalmology .

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