UPMC Eye Center has become one of the first in Allegheny County to offer conductive keratoplasty (CK) for presbyopia. Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is the first and only FDA-approved vision technology that improves near vision in the millions of baby boomers with presbyopia, the age-related eye condition that sets in after age 40.
CK uses radio waves to reshape the cornea and bring near vision back into focus. The procedure is typically performed only on one eye, helping the patient to maintain distance vision. Minimally invasive and painless, CK is performed in less than three minutes in the doctor's office with only eye-drop anesthesia. The procedure is laser-free and extremely safe; there is no cutting and no removal of tissue.
Presbyopia is the most prevalent eye condition in America, affecting most people after age 40 and everyone by age 51. Presbyopia causes near vision to fade with age, making it difficult to see things up-close. An estimated 90 million baby boomers either have presbyopia or will develop the condition in the next 10 years.
"Many patients with presbyopia say that they get frustrated with having to take their reading glasses on and off to adjust for seeing at different distances," said Deepinder Dhaliwal, MD, chief of refractive surgery and director of the cornea service at the UPMC Eye Center. "These people struggle with daily tasks and must rely on magnifying reading glasses for many activities. CK gives them a new option to live without reading glasses and see like they did when they were younger."
CK is the only vision procedure designed specifically for baby boomers who want a safe, minimally invasive procedure to free them of reading glasses. CK has become the fastest-growing new refractive procedure since the introduction of LASIK, according to research firm Market Scope. More than 30,000 CK procedures have been performed since the FDA first approved it in 2002 for hyperopia, commonly referred to as age-related farsightedness, a condition that differs from presbyopia in its effect on the eye's ability to focus, but with similar symptoms.
According to a clinical trial of CK in patients with presbyopia, 98 percent of patients could see magazine- and newspaper-size print in the eye that was treated; 87 percent of patients could see 20/20 in the distance and also could read phonebook-sized print when using both eyes; and there were no reported serious, sight-threatening or unanticipated safety events.
CK is performed using a probe thinner than a strand of hair that releases radiofrequency energy. Applied to the cornea in a circular pattern, the radio waves shrink small areas of collagen to create a constrictive band (like the tightening of a belt) that increases the curvature of the cornea, bringing near vision back into focus.
CK is indicated for the temporary improvement of near vision in those who require only reading glasses, clinically called emmetropic presbyopes, and those who require reading and distance glasses, clinically called hyperopic presbyopes.