Confocal Comparison of Corneal Reinnervation After Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) and Femtosecond Laser in Situ Keratomileusis (FS-LASIK)

Authors: Xingtao ZhouQihua LeJun XiangMeiyan LiAnji WeiLingling NiuWeiping MaZimei ZhouBing QinKatherine Ni
Year: 2013
Times cited: 81

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Confocal Comparison of Corneal Reinnervation after Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) and Femtosecond Laser In Situ Keratomileusis (FS-LASIK)


PURPOSE: To evaluate corneal reinnervation, and the corresponding corneal sensitivity and keratocyte density after small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) and femtosecond laser in situ keratomileusis (FS-LASIK).

METHODS: In this prospective, non-randomized observational study, 18 patients (32 eyes) received SMILE surgery, and 22 patients (42 eyes) received FS-LASIK surgery to correct myopia. The corneal subbasal nerve density and microscopic morphological changes in corneal architecture were evaluated by confocal microscopy prior to surgery and at 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after surgery. A correlation analysis was performed between subbasal corneal nerve density and the corresponding keratocyte density and corneal sensitivity.

RESULTS: The decrease in subbasal nerve density was less severe in SMILE-treated eyes than in FS-LASIK-treated eyes at 1 week (P = 0.0147), 1 month (P = 0.0243), and 3 months (P = 0.0498), but no difference was detected at the 6-month visit (P = 0.5277). The subbasal nerve density correlated positively with central corneal sensitivity in both groups (r = 0.416, P<0.0001, and r = 0.2567, P = 0.0038 for SMILE group and FS-LASIK group, respectively). The SMILE-treated eyes have a lower risk of developing peripheral empty space with epithelial cells filling in (P = 0.0005).

CONCLUSIONS: The decrease in subbasal nerve fiber density was less severe in the SMILE group than the FS-LASIK group in the first 3 months following the surgeries. The subbasal nerve density was correlated with central corneal sensitivity.

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