Oct. 1, 2002 Surgeons at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute are now offering conductive keratoplasty, or CK, to correct low-level farsightedness in selected patients over age 40.
The procedure, approved in April by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is the first non-laser treatment for hyperopia, a condition in which people can see objects far away but have trouble focusing on those nearby. It is an outpatient surgery performed under local anesthesia in just a few minutes .
Unlike laser treatments, which use light waves as an energy source, CK uses radiofrequency waves, a form of electromagnetic energy, to re-shape the peripheral cornea. The energy is similar in some respects to the microwaves that power CB radios and cell phones.
CK employs a pen-shaped instrument with a tip as thin as a human hair that releases the radiofrequency energy. The tip is applied in a circular pattern on the outer layer of the front of the eyeball to shrink small areas of tissue. The result is a constrictive band of tissue, similar to a tightened belt, that increases the overall curvature of the cornea.
"Nearly 95 percent of patients with low to moderate ranges of farsightedness achieve normal or near-normal vision after the procedure," says Terrence P. O'Brien, M.D., medical director of the Wilmer Laser Vision Center in Lutherville, Md.
About 60 million Americans have some hyperopia, characterized by a shortened or too flat cornea. When light enters a hyperopic eyeball, it focuses behind the retina instead of directly on the retina, forcing the focusing apparatus of the eye to work to compensate and clarify fuzzy images.
Symptoms include eyestrain, blurred vision or headache, especially when reading or at the end of the day. The condition can be corrected with prescription contact lenses and eye glasses, or surgically treated by steepening the central cornea or flattening the peripheral cornea.
Radiofrequency technology, also used for prostate cancer therapy, back surgery and some cardiovascular procedures, is still in clinical trials for the treatment of nearsightedness and astigmatism.
For more information about CK, call the Wilmer Laser Vision Center at 410-583-2802 or check their Web site at http://www.wilmerlaser.net
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The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute:http://www.wilmer.jhu.edu
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