This paper reviews the potential role of excimer lasers in corneal surgery. The morphology of incisions induced by two wavelengths of excimer laser radiation, 193 nm and 248 nm, are compared with the morphology of incisions produced by diamond and steel knives. Analysis suggests that ablation induced by excimer laser results from highly localised photochemical reactions and that 193 nm is the optimal wavelength for surgery. The only significant complication of laser surgery is loss of endothelial cells when incisions are within 40 micron of Descemet's membrane.
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