RADIAL KERATOTOMY (RK) is the oldest of the modern refractive procedures. Over 1 million RK procedures have been performed in North America since the late 1970s. RK corrects mild forms of nearsightedness. It works by flattening the eye using a spoke-like (radial) pattern of incisions in the front surface of the cornea. Usually, 4 to 16 incisions are made. Although popular as recently as five years ago, this procedure has fallen out of favor with more predictable techniques like LASIK.


Because RK has been around so long, there is a wealth of knowledge about its limitations and potential complications. Specific concerns with radial keratotomy include a long-term shift toward farsightedness, vision that fluctuates during the day, vision that changes with altitude, night glare and halos, and reduced globe integrity. This instability, called progressive hyperopia, was usually seen in eyes undergoing larger amounts of correction – something which is avoided today, through the use of other procedures for these eyes, such as LASIK.

An important note from Dr. Thompson:

See: Risks of Refractive Surgery. Remember surgery is surgery and all surgery has risks. This is not meant to discourage you but these are facts you should know if you plan to have surgery preformed. This office is extensively involved in refractive surgery and would be happy to meet with you and discuss your case. I have personally had refractive surgery. But, just because these risks were acceptable to me does not mean they will be acceptable to you. I strongly recommend you educate yourself prior to surgery and then consult a knowledgeable eye care provider to further guide you through the procedure and follow-up. Pre and post operative care is critical in maximizing your chance of a good outcome.

Our office policy is to educate our refractive surgery patients well enough that they have realistic expectations and know the risks before they commit to the surgery, we believe in informed consent. Once the decision is made, it is our goal to get that person to the best surgeon for the amount of money they want to spend.