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Evolution of corneal thickness and optical density after laser in situ keratomileusis versus small incision lenticule extraction for myopia correction

Abstract

Purpose To compare the thickness and stromal optical density (OD) evolution of the flap and cap after femtosecond (FS-LASIK; Visumax) and small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE), respectively, for myopia correction.

Methods A prospective study comprising 78 eyes (n=39 per group) was performed. Anterior segment optical coherence tomography (MS39) images were collected at each postoperative visit (1 day, 1 week and 1 and 3 months) and flap/cap thicknesses were measured. Using ImageJ software, three regions were defined to measure OD (in grayscale units: flap/cap stroma, residual stromal bed (RSB) and all stroma (including flap/cap-stroma, surgical interface and RSB).

Results Mean central thickness significantly increased during the 3-month follow-up in both LASIK (5.43±4.23 μm; p=0.0118) and SMILE (2.76±5.61 μm; p=0.0118), with differences between both techniques statistically significant (p=0.020). All OD values showed a statistically significant reduction during SMILE follow-up: cap 48.96±5.55 versus 44.95±5.41 (p=0.19×10−6), RSB 50.26±7.06 versus 45.42±7.53 (p=0.00005), total stroma 50.34±6.49 versus 45.46±6.96 (p=0.5×10−5) at 1 day and 3 months, respectively, whereas no statistically significant changes were found during LASIK follow-up. No significant differences were observed in OD values between both techniques at any time point, although SMILE showed a tendency for higher OD values than LASIK within the first postoperative month. Visumax presented a tendency for thicker caps than target (11.48±7.85 μm), but not for flaps (2.73±8.93 μm) (p=0.00003).

Conclusions Both LASIK flaps and SMILE caps show a significant postoperative rethickening. SMILE corneas present higher optical densities than LASIK corneas in the early postoperative period, with a significant decrease thereafter and up to 3 months. These findings correlate with the delayed visual recovery observed after SMILE.

  • Cornea
  • Treatment Lasers

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