Definition of Astigmatic Keratotomy

Astigmatic keratotomy surgery is safe and effective but has been replaced with the more modern LASIK surgery. Astigmatism is a problem with many eye patients. An eye that has astigmatism is shaped like a football.

Surgery is needed to reduce the steepness of the cornea and make it more rounded. This is often done while other forms of corrective surgery are done. Astigmatisms are hard to treat unless they are mild.

Astigmatic keratotomy surgery involves one or two incisions allowing the cornea to relax into a more natural state. This allows the cornea to round out and decrease the steepness to allow for better vision. Severe forms of astigmatism may be treated with astigmatic keratotomy but may still need glasses or contact lenses for ideal vision.

Surgery Benefits

The advantage of having astigmatic keratotomy eye surgery is that it is a safe and effective way to correct mild astigmatism. The disadvantages include a slow healing time. The healing time is normally around three months. There is a discomfort from this surgery that lasts for two or three days. Finally, the results are permanent whether they are good or bad.

There are certain side effects of astigmatic keratotomy surgery. They are rare but you should consider the possibility of side effects occurring. This can include vision variation especially in the first few months, a weakened cornea that could be easily ruptured, and infection.

Also a common side effect of AK surgery is the difficulty in fitting the eye with contact lenses, light sensitivity, and glares or “halos” around lights at night. This could be permanent and should be considered before you decide if AK surgery is right for you.


Preparation for astigmatic keratotomy surgery is not difficult. You will meet with someone who will talk to you about what to expect during and after the surgery, your medical history, and your eyes will be tested. Your cornea will probably be measured and your eyes diluted so measurements can accurately be taken.

These measurements will be for thickness of the corneal, refraction, and pupil dilation. You should have questions prepared to ask the surgeon when this has been completed.

If you wear hard contact lenses, you should not wear them for three weeks before surgery. If you wear soft lenses, you should not wear them for a minimum of three days before you have astigmatic keratotomy surgery. You will need to be sure to bring your eyeglasses to your surgeon so your prescription can be reviewed and changed if necessary.

When you go to the doctors office for surgery, be sure to take any prescription medications you are taking. Do not wear eye make-up or heavy jewelry that can cause your head to move during the surgery. If you are not feeling well on the morning of the surgery, you may want to call the office to let the doctor decide if the eye surgery needs to be postponed.

After surgery, your eyes may be sensitive to light or feel like you have something in it. Eye drops will be prescribed that will help prevent any infection or inflammation following the surgery. It will normally take a few weeks before the results of the surgery are known.