Contact lens intolerance in keratoconus may be due to the formation of a proud nebula at or near the apex of the cone. Excimer laser superficial keratectomy was performed as an outpatients with proud nebulae as treatment patients with proud nebulae as treatment for their contact lens intolerance. The mean period of contact lens wear before the development of intolerance was 13.4 years (range 2 to 27 years). Following the development of intolerance, three patients abandoned contact lens wear in the affected eye while the remainder experienced a reduction in comfortable wearing time (mean = 3.75 hours; range: 0-14 hours). All patients had good potential Snellen visual acuity with a contact lens of 6/9 (nine eyes) and 6/12 (one eye). The proud nebulae were directly ablated with a 193 nm ArF excimer laser using a 1 mm diameter beam. Between 100-150 pulses were sufficient to ablate the raised area. Patients experienced no pain during the procedure and reported minimal discomfort postoperatively. In all cases flattening of the proud nebulae was achieved. Seven patients were able to resume regular contact lens wear (mean wearing time = 10.17 hours; range 8 to 16 hours). In three patients, resumption of contact lens wear was unsuccessful because of cone steepness. All patients achieved postoperative Snellen visual acuity of 6/12 or better with a contact lens. Four patients experienced a loss of one line in Snellen acuity. The mean follow up period was 8.3 months (range 2 to 17 months). Excimer laser superficial keratectomy is a useful technique for the treatment of contact lens intolerance caused by proud nebulae in patients with keratoconus. Penetrating keratoplasty is thus avoided.
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