Background: The pulsed ultraviolet 213-nm solid-state laser has been demonstrated as an alternative to the gas argon-fluoride 193-nm excimer laser for photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). The authors studied the clinical course and histopathologic changes occurring in rabbit corneas after PRK with a 213-nm solid-state laser. Methods: The 213-nm output of neodymium:YAG frequency-quintupled laser was used to create 5-mm optical zone ablations in seven pigmented rabbit corneas. The radiant exposure was 250 mJ/cm2 delivered through a computer-controlled scanning delivery system with a spot size of 0.5 mm. The target ablation was 4.0 diopters with an estimated ablation depth of 40 μm. A clinical estimate of corneal epithelial healing and stromal haze was made at intervals over the 3-month study period. Animals were killed immediately after ablation, or at 10 days, 1 month, or 3 months after ablation. Corneal tissue was preserved for light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy at each study interval. Results: All corneas re-epithelialized within 10 days postoperatively. Anterior stromal haze was clinically visible at 3 days, increased until approximately 1 month, and then gradually decreased over the succeeding 2 months. Residual subepithelial haze was visible at 3 months. Results of histopathologic study documented normal epithelium healing over time; the basement membrane retained its regular thickness and hemidesmosomes were abundant at 3 months. The anterior stroma had an increased number of fibroblasts at 10 days, many of which remained until 1 month. A mild, transient, cellular reaction occurred throughout the thickness of the stroma and the endothelium. Conclusion: Using the 213-nm ultraviolet solid-state laser with a scanning delivery system, PRK shows a similar clinical course and histopathologic findings to the 193-nm excimer PRK study in rabbits. It is a clinically viable procedure for refractive surgery and requires further human clinical trials to determine its efficacy.
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