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Phototherapeutic Keratectomy
(PTK) Surgery

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK) Surgery, a cutting-edge procedure designed to address a range of corneal disorders and restore visual clarity.

In the realm of ophthalmology, PTK stands as a beacon of hope for those suffering from conditions such as corneal dystrophies, recurrent corneal erosions, and superficial corneal scars

Book an appointment, and find out if you are a candidate for PTK Surgery in Sydney.

What is PTK eye surgery?

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK) surgery is an advanced laser procedure used to treat corneal abnormalities such as scar tissue or an irregular surface that causes blurry vision or discomfort within the eye.

This procedure is often performed with vision correction surgeries such as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) but is considered a medical procedure that improves the overall health and shape of the cornea.

The goal of PTK is to improve vision and alleviate discomfort by precisely removing corneal irregularities and maintaining corneal health and the optimal expected residual corneal thickness.

This refers to the post-operative corneal thickness or residual stromal bed thickness, refers to the thickness of the cornea remaining after a refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) or PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy).

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)
PTK surgery is an advanced laser procedure used to treat corneal abnormalities

Indications for PTK laser surgery

PTK laser eye surgery is ideal for patients with corneal conditions.

  • Recurrent corneal erosion syndrome: This recurrent epithelial erosion syndrome involves the recurring breakdown of the outer layer of the cornea, leading to episodes of pain, sensitivity to light, and intermittent blurred vision.
  • Corneal scars: Superficial corneal scars can result from previous injuries, infections, or other corneal conditions. They can cause corneal surface irregularities, affecting vision quality.
  • Corneal dystrophy: Corneal dystrophies are a group of genetic disorders that cause abnormal deposits or changes in the cornea’s structure. These changes can lead to clouding of the cornea and result in reduced vision clarity. If dystrophies are superficial, they may be amenable to PTK.

Before the development of PTK, cornea treatment involved manually scraping away abnormal roughness with a surgical blade or replacing the entire cornea through a transplant procedure. PTK offers patients a safer, less invasive alternative.

PTK Procedure

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

During the PTK procedure, the eye is numbed with anesthetic drops to reduce any potential discomfort. The eye is held open with a special device to prevent blinking during the procedure. Dr Kumar will then remove the epithelium, the protective covering of the cornea, from the eye, while a laser reshapes the cornea to your unique specifications, which have been determined prior to treatment. The laser treatment takes less than a minute to perform. The epithelium will heal naturally to cover the treated area.

How PTK Surgery Works

The phototherapeutic keratectomy procedure is a cutting-edge vision correction procedure that utilises an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. This reshaping process aims to correct various corneal irregularities, leading to improved visual acuity.

Preoperative evaluation

Before undergoing PTK surgery, a comprehensive preoperative evaluation is conducted. This evaluation involves a detailed examination of your eyes to assess your overall eye health and determine your eligibility for the procedure.

Corneal topography or corneal mapping is essential to this assessment and helps identify the specific irregularities that need correction.

Surgical technique

On the day of the PTK surgery, you will be comfortably positioned in the surgical suite. Local anaesthesia eye drops are administered to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure. General anaesthesia is not required for PTK surgery as it is typically painless.

Once the eye is sufficiently numb, the excimer laser is carefully calibrated to remove precise amounts of corneal tissue from the affected area. In general, PTK should be performed to remove less than 1/4 of the corneal thickness.

The laser’s ultraviolet light removes the tissue in a controlled manner, without generating heat, minimising the risk of collateral damage to surrounding tissues.

Postoperative management and recovery

After the PTK surgery is complete, our team will provide you with detailed postoperative care instructions to facilitate a smooth healing process. These instructions may include:

  • Using prescribed eye drops to prevent infection and promote healing.
  • Avoid rubbing or touching the eyes to prevent injury.
  • Shielding your eyes from bright light or irritants during the initial healing phase.

The recovery period after PTK surgery is generally quick and relatively painless. Many patients experience improved vision within a few days. However, it is essential to keep in mind that individual healing rates may vary.

Benefits of PTK Surgery

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PTK surgery offers several key benefits for vision correction:

  • Precision: The excimer laser allows for precise and controlled tissue removal, ensuring accurate correction of corneal irregularities.
  • Minimally Invasive: PTK is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require surgical incisions, reducing the risk of complications.
  • Versatility: PTK can effectively treat various corneal conditions, providing a customised solution for each patient.
  • Quick Recovery: Most patients experience rapid visual improvement and can resume daily activities within a short period.
PTK Surgery
PTK Surgery is a relatively painless and minimally invasive procedure.

Complications of PTK surgery

While PTK surgery is generally safe and effective, like any surgical procedure, there are potential risks. These risks can include:

  • Infection
  • Corneal haze
  • Temporary vision fluctuations

Rest assured, our expert team at Vision Clinic Sydney will take every precaution to minimise these risks and ensure a successful outcome.

PTK eye surgery cost

The phototherapeutic keratectomy cost may be dependent on the severity of the condition. After a full consultation with Dr Kumar, you will be provided with a detailed quotation.

Please contact us directly or book a consultation to find out more about our prices.
Visit our patient information page for more

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We can help.
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Meet Dr Kumar

Dr Nikhil Kumar has a long-standing admiration for the complexities of the eye, leading him to pursue ophthalmology as a speciality. He was awarded a degree in Medicine from the University of Newcastle in 1998 and went on to finish his specialised training in ophthalmology at the Sydney Eye Hospital in 2008. He is a subspecialist cornea, cataract and refractive surgeon.

How to book an appointment

For the initial visit, you will need to provide a referral letter from your primary care physician or eye specialist in order to qualify for a Medicare rebate for the consultation and any tests/procedures done at the clinic. If you do not have a referral letter, you can still be seen at the practice, but you will not be able to claim a Medicare rebate. You can download the referral PDF form or submit it online.

Please bring:

  • Any prescription glasses that you wear
  • Sunglasses or a hat as your eyes may be dilated during the consultation, resulting in possible sensitivity to light and blurred vision. You may not be able to read or drive for 4 hours after your appointment.
  • A list of current medications and details of your medical history
  • Your Medicare card, private health fund card and pension card if you have them.

Our location in Sydney

We are located in the central business district of Sydney in New South Wales. Our physical address is Level 6, Suite 605, 229 Macquarie St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.


Below you can find our most frequently asked questions:

In general, the initial healing phase takes about 3 to 5 days, during which you may experience some mild discomfort and blurred vision. However, the complete healing process may take several weeks. Most patients notice a significant improvement in their vision within the first week, but the final visual outcome will continue to improve over the following weeks as the cornea stabilises.

PTK surgery using the excimer laser is not painful. The procedure is typically performed under local anaesthesia with eye drops, ensuring that you will not feel any discomfort during the surgery. Some patients may experience mild discomfort or a gritty sensation in the eyes during the initial healing phase, but this can be managed with prescribed medications and should subside as the eyes heal.

The success rate of PTK surgery for anterior corneal pathologies, such as corneal dystrophies, recurrent corneal erosions, and superficial corneal scars, is generally high. However, the success of the surgery depends on the severity and type of corneal pathology and individual healing responses.

Anterior corneal pathology refers to a group of eye conditions that affect the front surface of the cornea. The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped outer layer of the eye. Common examples are corneal dystrophies, recurrent erosion syndrome and corneal scarring. PTK surgery may be used to treat these conditions.

This information is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment. It is aimed at presenting a perspective only and is not a substitute for a prescription. Anyone experiencing a medical condition should consult their doctor.

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