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Nikolaus Luft, Michael H. Ring, Martin Dirisamer, Anna S. Mursch-Edlmayr, Thomas C. Kreutzer, Josef Pretzl, Matthias Bolz, Siegfried G. Priglinger; Corneal Epithelial Remodeling Induced by Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(9):OCT176-OCT183. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.15-18879.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To assess the reactive changes of the corneal epithelial thickness (ET) profile induced by small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) for treatment of myopia.
This prospective observational study included 46 eyes of 23 patients that were scheduled for myopic SMILE. High-resolution spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and a custom image segmentation algorithm were applied to measure corneal ET at multiple time points within the central 5-mm zone. Postoperative ET alterations were correlated with treatment parameters and refractive outcomes.
Mean age was 33 ± 6 years and mean spherical equivalent of surgical refractive correction was −4.78 ± 1.75 diopters. The average ET (averaged over the central 5-mm zone) increased from 52.3 ± 3.6 μm preoperatively to 57.7 ± 5.1 μm 6 months postoperatively (P < 0.01). Average ET was 101.9% of the preoperative thickness at 24 hours postoperatively, 103.2% at 1 week, 106.7% at 6 weeks, 109.3% at 3 months, and 110.4% at 6 months postoperatively. The epithelial thickening response could be modeled by an exponential recovery function and stabilized after 3 months. The extent of epithelial hyperplasia was highly dependent on the magnitude of the induced refractive correction (P = 0.002).
In this initial study of corneal ET remodeling after myopic SMILE, significant epithelial thickening was detected as a function of the extent of surgical refractive correction. Moreover, the epithelial remodeling response to the corneal refractive change appeared to decrease with higher age. In our hands, the observed epithelial changes did not appear to affect the refractive outcome of SMILE. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02614625)
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