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Jurriaan Brekelmans, Alexandra Goz, Mor M. Dickman, Alexander Brandis, Xiaomeng Sui, H. Daniel Wagner, Rudy M. M. A. Nuijts, Avigdor Scherz, Arie L. Marcovich; Long-Term Biomechanical and Histologic Results of WST-D/NIR Corneal Stiffening in Rabbits, Up to 8 Months Follow-up. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(10):4089-4095. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-22108.
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To determine the long-term safety and efficacy of WST-D/near-infrared (NIR) corneal stiffening.
One eye of 23 New Zealand White rabbits was de-epithelialized mechanically followed by topical application of 2.5 mg/mL WST11, combined with dextran-500 (WST-D) for 20 minutes. Subsequently, samples were irradiated with a NIR (755 nm) laser at 10 mW/cm2 for 30 minutes. Untreated fellow eyes served as controls. One week (n = 4), 1 month (n = 6), 4 months (n = 9), or 8 months (n = 4) after treatment rabbits were euthanized. Corneal strips were cut in superior–inferior direction for extensiometry testing (1, 4, and 8 months), and histologic sections were prepared for evaluation of keratocyte distribution (1 week and 8 months).
Elastic modulus after treatment was significantly higher than in paired controls (16.0 ± 2.3 MPa versus 9.6 ± 3.6 MPa [P = 0.008], 18.1 ± 4.5 MPa versus 12.6 ± 2.3 MPa [P = 0.003], and 18.6 ± 3.6 MPa versus 14.2 ± 3.6 MPa [P = 0.010], at 1, 4, and 8 months, respectively). A significant decrease in keratocyte count at the anterior stroma was observed directly after treatment (1.5 ± 1.7 vs. 19.0 ± 4.1 [P = 0.002]). At 8 months keratocyte repopulation appeared completed, with similar distribution in treated and untreated corneas (15.9 ± 1.1 vs. 14.5 ± 2.5 [P = 0.562]). Corneal thickness was comparable between treated and untreated corneas at all time points.
WST-D/NIR treatment resulted in significant and persistent long-term increase in corneal stiffness. Initial keratocyte apoptosis in the anterior stroma is followed by repopulation to normal level at 8 months after treatment. The safe nature of NIR light allows treatment of corneas of any thickness without endangering corneal endothelium or deeper ocular structures, potentially benefiting patients deemed unsuitable for riboflavin/UV-A cross-linking.
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