The first experimental work on RK dates back to 1898, when Lans studied the effect of radial corneal incisions (like the spokes of a bicycle wheel) in rabbits with the aim of treating astigmatism. Dr Satu from Japan continued his work in 1933. He was the first to perform a large series of this procedure. Unfortunately, a large number of these patients had complications, and the technique was abandoned. During 1974, Drs. Fyodorov and Durnev from Russia sparked new interest in the procedure when they modified the technique, and had good success with it.
The surgery is performed by making radial incisions in the cornea with a micro-adjustable diamond blade. This flattens the central cornea, thereby correcting low degrees of myopia and astigmatism. Variable degrees of correction can be achieved by changing the depth, the length, and number of incisions.
Although this was a huge step forward in the field of refractive surgery, it is seldom practiced today, due to the overwhelming success of excimer laser refractive surgery. There are, however, still the odd indication for this surgery today under highly selected circumstances.