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Neil Lagali, Johan Germundsson, Per Fagerholm; The Role of Bowman’s Layer in Corneal Regeneration after Phototherapeutic Keratectomy: A Prospective Study Using In Vivo Confocal Microscopy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(9):4192-4198. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-3781.
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purpose. To examine the role of Bowman’s layer (BL) on the nature of anterior corneal regeneration after excimer laser phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK).
methods. A cohort of 13 patients underwent PTK to remove either 7 μm of BL for treatment of primary recurrent corneal erosions (RCE; six patients) or complete BL removal (15-μm ablation) to treat RCE or poor vision secondary to map-dot-fingerprint (MDF) dystrophy (seven patients). Clinical examinations and laser-scanning in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) were conducted before surgery and at a mean of 4 and 8 months after surgery.
results. Total BL removal resulted in a significant decline in subbasal nerve density at 4 months (P = 0.007) that barely recovered to preoperative levels at 8 months (P = 0.055). With BL partially present, subbasal nerve density did not significantly change from preoperative levels. Superficial, wing, and basal epithelial cell density recovered to preoperative levels within 4 months after PTK, regardless of the presence of BL. Subepithelial keratocytes, however, were more densely distributed in corneas without BL relative to those with a partial BL present (P = 0.005), and increased anterior keratocyte reflectivity was noted in all eyes without BL and in no eye with a partial BL present.
conclusions. Subbasal nerve regeneration is delayed and subepithelial keratocyte density and reflectivity remain elevated up to 10 months after total BL removal by PTK. The results provide initial evidence for a possible role of BL in facilitating rapid stromal wound healing and an associated recovery of anterior corneal transparency and the restoration of epithelial innervation after epithelial trauma.
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