Phototherapeutic refractive keratectomy (PTRK) could help improve corneal surface irregularities and remove opacities in patients with granular corneal dystrophy, a recent study found. As such, researchers believe the new procedure may allow these patients to enjoy superior quality of life.

Researchers from Japan used PTRK to treat 23 eyes of 17 patients with granular corneal dystrophy. They evaluated subjects for visual acuity, corneal topography and changes in spherical equivalent and cylindrical refraction both before and after treatment.

Three months after the procedure, mean uncorrected distance visual acuity and corrected distance visual acuity had each significantly increased. Additionally, the surface regularity index (SRI) and surface asymmetry index (SAI) values significantly decreased.

“Because the mean values of the SRI and SAI were significantly decreased, the patients were able to achieve good visual acuity and an improvement in corneal surface asymmetry after PTRK,” the study concluded.

Because the study was limited to a three-month follow-up period, “a future study with a longer follow-up and a larger number of eyes may be needed to confirm postoperative stability,” the study said. “Furthermore, it is necessary to evaluate not only the visual acuity but also the higher-order visual function, such as contrast sensitivity, because smoothing improves surface regularity.”

Still, researchers believe these results demonstrate that “PTRK is a promising surgical procedure for improving postoperative quality of life with a high degree of patient satisfaction.” They now have plans to evaluate the effectiveness of PTRK in other diseases such as band keratopathy and lattice corneal dystrophy.

Nakamura T, Kataoka T, Kojima T, et al. Refractive outcomes after phototherapeutic refractive keratectomy for granular corneal dystrophy. Cornea. 2018;37(5):548-53.