School of Medicine Header
WUSTL.EDU

PTK

PTK (Photo-Therapeutic Keratectomy) uses the excimer laser to treat corneal surface diseases and scars. This surgery is performed by removing the outer cell layer or epithelium of the cornea, and then applying the laser to the surface of the cornea to produce a smoother and clearer cornea. An alternative to PTK surgery is corneal transplant.

Although many patients find that their eyeglass or contact lens prescription may differ after the surgery, reducing one’s dependency upon eyeglasses or contact lenses is not the goal. 

Alternately, a PRK procedure is performed to reduce dependency upon eyeglasses or contact lenses. PRK is often combined with PTK. But keep in mind that PTK is often covered by insurance plans because it is considered a medical treatment but also may not be covered by insurance plans as well. PRK procedure is usually not covered.

Candidates for PTK include individuals who have corneal surface diseases, including:
    • Recurrent epithelial erosion syndrome.
    • Shallow corneal scars.
    • Corneal dystrophies, such as lattice dystrophy or granular dystrophy.

Some discomfort may be experienced for the first few days after the procedure, while the epithelium re-establishes a protective layer over the cornea. The use of prescription eye drops and bandage contact lenses dramatically reduces the discomfort. In some cases the deep layer of the cornea may assume a hazy appearance, but this usually improves with time as the healing progresses.

PTK is a safe, effective and permanent procedure, but like any surgical procedure, it does have some risks. After PTK, almost everyone will experience some visual side effects. The side effects are usually mild and temporary and have a tendency to diminish over time. But there is a slight chance that some of these side effects won’t go away completely, including light sensitivity, glare and halos. Even so, serious complications to PTK are extremely rare.

For more information on PTK surgery in the St. Louis area through Washington University Physicians or to make an appointment, please call 314-996-3300