Aim: The risk of regression after PRK and the tendency to develop keratectasia after LASIK procedure is higher in women. Currently interest is focused on the influence of estrogen on corneal stability after corneal refractive surgery. The aim of this experimental study was to investigate the change in biomechanical properties of the cornea induced by estrogen
Methods: The influence of estrogen was investigated in 12 fresh porcine corneas incubated in culture medium with 10μM of β-estradiol for 7 days. A group of 12 porcine corneas incubated in culture medium without estradiol for the same time served as a control group. Strips of cornea were cut and the stress-strain was measured in a biomaterial tester. The Young's modulus was calculated.
Results: During incubation the thickness of the cornea changed in the control group by only 6.4% and in the estradiol group by 12%. However, the difference in the biomechanical stress values at 10% strain was significantly larger. In the control group was the stress value measured 120.18 ± 28.93 kPa and in the estradiol group 76.87 ± 34.63 kPa (p=0.002), representing a reduction of the corneal stiffness by 36% due to the estradiol treatment.
Conclusion: Estrogen is a modulating factor of the biomechanical properties of the cornea which is not explainable only by an increased swelling. The significance of the hormone status of patients and its influence on the biomechanical stability of the cornea, a determining factor after refractive surgery, have been underestimated and may contribute to the development of keratectasia.