What is Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)?

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK) is a specialised laser eye treatment designed to treat various corneal abnormalities. This procedure utilises an excimer laser to precisely remove microscopic layers of corneal tissue, helping to improve clear vision and/or alleviate pain or discomfort caused by corneal diseases.

Why Harley Vision for PTK laser

Harley Vision is a subspecialist cornea clinic, with world renowned cornea specialists who specifically deal with cornea conditions requiring PTK laser. We are one of the few clinics which offer transepithelial PTK (SmartSurfACE) technology. Unlike conventional methods, the eye is not touched with any instrument. Instead, the SCHWIND AMARIS laser corrects vision through the top layers of the cornea, without suction, flap, or incision, and without the use of alcohol. This can have additional benefits in smoothening the cornea surface and improving PTK laser outcomes.

Regular cornea before SmartSurfACE

Ablation of the refractive component

Ablation of the epithelial component

Regenerated cornea after SmartSurfACE

Why PTK is Performed

PTK is primarily used to treat conditions that affect the cornea’s surface, including:

  • Corneal scars caused by injury or infection
  • Recurrent corneal erosions
  • Corneal dystrophies
  • Keratoconus
  • Surface irregularities and corneal opacities

PTK can improve visual clarity, reduce pain and discomfort, and in some cases, eliminate the need for a corneal transplant.

The PTK Procedure

Before the procedure, patients undergo a comprehensive eye examination, and the eye’s surface is meticulously mapped using high-definition cornea scans. Here’s what to expect during a PTK treatment:

  • Preparation: Anaesthetic drops are applied to numb the eye, ensuring comfort throughout the procedure.
  • Laser Application: The excimer laser is carefully directed to remove the outermost layers of the cornea, smoothing irregularities and removing any opacified or diseased tissue.
  • Duration: The actual laser application usually takes only a few seconds per eye.

Recovery and Aftercare

Recovery from PTK varies among patients, but most can expect:

  • To keep a protective contact lens on the eye for a few days post-surgery to aid healing
  • Possible mild discomfort or sensitivity to light immediately after the procedure
  • To use antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops as prescribed
  • Most patients report significant improvements in their symptoms within 2 weeks, with gradual vision stabilization over the following months.

Risks and Benefits

PTK offers numerous benefits, including improved vision quality, reduction in pain or discomfort, and potentially avoiding more invasive surgeries. However, as with any medical procedure, there are risks involved. Here are some examples of uncommon risks:

  • Infection, although rare due to prophylactic antibiotic use
  • Haze formation during the healing process
  • Small change to the prescription (vision power) of the eye


Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK) represents a significant advancement in the treatment of corneal diseases. By offering a precise, minimally invasive option, PTK can provide relief and improved vision for many patients suffering from corneal conditions.

If you believe you could benefit from PTK or want more information, please contact Harley Vision to schedule a consultation. Our Internationally trained cornea specialists are here to guide you through every step of the process, from evaluation to recovery, ensuring the best possible outcome for your eye.

Frequent asked questions (FAQs):

Our clinical director has treated patients using three of the world’s fastest and more precise laser technologies: Schwind eye-tech-solutions laser technology, iDesign laser technology and Zeiss Visumax/MEL90 lasers. 

Modern state-of-the-art excimer lasers have similar accuracy and safety, giving you fantastic visual outcome. We use Schwind eye-tech-solutions laser technology, which has world-renowned precision and speed. It has a unique transepithelial PTK laser (SmartSurfACE) technology. However, we advise you to avoid getting stressed about the best laser technology as this stress is often the result of marketing. 

What makes a big difference to laser eye surgery outcomes is more: 

  1. Understanding your personal goals, visual requirements and expectations (extremely important) 
  2. Pre-surgical assessment and testing 
  3. Going for the correct type of cornea surgery
  4. Compliance with follow up and after-care 

The surgery itself should be painless. Before the procedure, numbing drops are placed in your eyes to ensure you remain comfortable throughout. Some people feel a slight pressure sensation, but you should not feel any significant pain during the surgery.

Yes, the application of laser on each eye only takes seconds. You can expect to be in the surgery suite for about 10-15 mins though. 

There’s no need to worry about blinking. During the procedure, a device called a lid speculum is used to keep your eyelids open. At Harley Vision, we use ultra-advanced eye-tracking systems that ensure the laser stays focused on the correct part of your eye, even if your eye moves. 

Mr Mukhtar Bizrah is a cornea and refractive surgeon by training, which is important for you to know. His fellowship training was primarily in refractive, cornea and complex cataract surgery.

Mr Bizrah trained at two of the world’s leading institutions: Western eye hospital (London, UK) and University of British Columbia (BC, Canada). 

Mr Bizrah has a wealth of experience in delivering state-of-the-art laser eye surgery treatments, enabling him to choose the right treatment for you. 

Mukhtar Bizrah is one of the few laser eye surgeons in the world who has experience in treating patients using three of the world’s fastest and more precise laser technologies: Schwind eye-tech-solutions laser technology, iDesign laser technology and Zeiss Visumax/MEL90 lasers. 

Laser refractive surgery is performed on the clear window of the eye called the cornea. Mr Bizrah manages cornea conditions in both his private and NHS practice, and deals with complex cases and referrals from the UK and abroad. While the risk of complications following laser eye surgery is rare, rest assured that your surgeon is a refractive and cornea specialist. 

Mr Bizrah is a founder and director of the world’s most successful eye courses, including the London laser and refractive surgery course. This is an international specialist course to promote effective, safe and ethical refractive surgery practice. 

Mr Bizrah has published studies on the advanced technology of transepithelial (non-touch) PTK laser for the treatment of recurrent cornea erosion syndrome and keratoconus.