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February 22, 1985

Radial keratotomy findings released; some still wary

JAMA. 1985;253(8):1103-1104. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350320023003

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Long-awaited results of a National Eye Institute study, released recently in Atlanta, have focused attention anew on radial keratotomy, an operation to reduce myopia by changing the shape of an otherwise healthy cornea (Arch Ophthalmol 1984;102:1601-1603).

The surgery, for which more than 10 million Americans might be candidates, has been performed an estimated 63,000 to 100,000 times in the United States since 1978 (Keratorefraction, Denison, Tex, LAL Publishing, 1980, pp 175-181, and Arch Opthalmol 1984;102:1612-1617) at charges ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 for each eye. Some third-party payers reimburse for the procedure. However, many ophthalmologists are still wary of the procedure, claiming that its outcome is unpredictable and long-term effects unknown.

To help assess the safety and efficacy of the operation, the National Eye Institute (which is in Bethesda, Md) in 1980 undertook sponsorship of the Prospective Evaluation of Radial Keratotomy, often referred to by its acronym, PERK, at nine