Damage to the human corneal endothelium, as seen by specular microscopy, associated with short pulsed neodymium: yttrium-aluminium-garnet (Nd/YAG) laser iridotomy and capsulotomy, is described. A specular and scanning electron microscopical study of fresh in vitro rabbit eyes submitted to Nd/YAG iridotomy was performed to investigate the nature of the endothelial damage. The majority of lesions showed irreversible changes ranging from individual cell destruction to disruption of large areas of the endothelium, while cells adjacent to these lesions had changes of an apparently reversible nature. It was possible to correlate accurately these scanning electron microscopic changes with the appearances seen with the clinical specular microscope. The extent of such damage appears to be related to the quantity of power delivered, its delivery mode, the number of laser bursts, and the target tissue/endothelium distance. The possible causes for such damage are discussed.
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