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December 27, 1985

Caveat emptor tops the eye chart for radial keratotomy candidates

JAMA. 1985;254(24):3401-3403. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360240011002

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Since its introduction into this country (JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1981;245:897-900), radial keratotomy— the ocular surgical procedure that aims to correct myopia by means of 4, 6, 8, or 16 symmetric corneal cuts—has been performed on nearly 150,000 Americans eager to shed their spectacles and contact lenses.

According to many speakers at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in San Francisco, radial keratotomy is an elective operation that people often choose because they see it widely advertised. Results of the Prospective Evaluation of Radial Keratotomy (PERK) study presented at last year's academy meeting (JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1985; 253:1103-1104)—and now amended after two years of the National Eye Institute-sponsored investigation (Ophthalmology; in press)—show that, while there are many reported successes, there also are numerous patients who have not been helped.

Now, for the first time, there are confirmed reports that some patients have been harmed.

Denis M. O'Day, MD,