High water content hydrogels can be made with water and solute permeabilities comparable to those of the corneal stroma, thus making them feasible as intrastromal implants for refractive keratoplasty. The materials have been shown to be compatible with the cornea tissue, but for a lenticule of hydrogel to be effective in a refractive keratoplasty procedure it must alter the anterior curvature of the cornea. In this investigation hydrogel lenticules were implanted by a free-hand pocket dissection in eight Macaca mulatta (rhesus) and two Macaca nemestrina (pigtail) primate eyes. The results of pre- and postoperative keratometry and subjective retinoscopy as well as biomicroscopy were recorded. The alteration in refractive power was calculated in relation to the hydrogel lenticule parameters such as base curve, refractive index, etc. The corneal refractive change had a yield of +3 +/- 27% (+/- SD). The central keratometric change had a yield of +6 +/- 16%. The hydrogel plus power lenticule implanted in a free-hand intrastromal pocket created no significant steepening of the anterior cornea surface and therefore little change in refraction.
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