Astigmatism is a condition of the cornea, and it sometimes affects the quality of vision. In this condition, the cornea is misshapen, causing some degree of distorted vision. Most cases are hereditary, though some cases are caused by an eye injury or even eye surgery.
Astigmatism is far from rare. In fact, most people have some degree of astigmatism, but few have it to the degree that it needs to be treated. Those with astigmatism severe enough to need treatment are generally given glasses or contact lenses, or perhaps a set of rigid contact lenses.
When astigmatism is very serious, or is due to a more serious medical condition such as keratoconus, patients are usually told that a cornea transplant is their only hope for retaining their eyesight. Cornea transplants are scary for most patients to consider, but medical science has finally produced a better way to treat astigmatism.
Conductive Keratoplasty, usually called CK, is a painless procedure done in the eye doctor's office, without the need for a hospital stay. It takes just a few minutes, and can eliminate or reduce the patient's astigmatism, which can help improve the quality of vision, improve their night vision, and even reduce vision distortions like halos and glare around lights.
When CK is used for patients with Keratoconus, the doctor usually inserts Intacs before proceeding with CK. Intacs are tiny, curved implants that are painlessly placed between the layers of the cornea. It takes only a few minutes, and patients report that they cannot feel the inserts at all.
After placing the Intacs (if that is necessary), the doctor begins the CK. This procedure uses radiofrequencies to heat the edges of the cornea, which gently pulls the irregularly shaped cornea back into place. The doctor will stop and check the progress of the procedure a time or two during this process, to confirm the desired effect of reducing astigmatism. This allows the doctor to improve the correction of vision during the procedure for the best possible outcome. In many cases, the doctor will apply Holocomb C3-R (cornea collagen crosslinking) treatment, which essentially sets the work done by the CK into place, helping prevent the procedure from reversing itself.
CK was first developed to help correct farsighted vision common in patients over the age of 40, but doctors eventually realized how useful the procedure would be to patients with severe astigmatism. The most common problem associated with the procedure is the chance that it will gradually reverse itself over time. The benefits include better eyesight, especially night vision, driving vision, and the reduction or elimination of halos and glaring commonly caused by astigmatism.