PURPOSE: To evaluate components of the integrated ocular surface/lacrimal gland unit in a series of patients before and after undergoing bilateral laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).
DESIGN: Prospective, noncomparative case series.
PARTICIPANTS: Forty-eight eyes of 14 men and 34 women (age range, 26-54; mean, 39.2 years) who underwent bilateral LASIK for myopia or myopic astigmatism.
METHODS: LASIK was performed using a VISX Star Excimer Laser (Santa Clara, CA). Patients completed a questionnaire containing 11 questions that evaluated the character and severity of ocular irritation symptoms. Snellen visual acuity, tear fluorescein clearance, corneal fluorescein staining, aqueous tear production by the Schirmer 1 test, and corneal and conjunctival sensitivity were measured in each eye. Corneal surface regularity (SRI) was evaluated with the Tomey TMS-1 (Tomey, Cambridge, MA) topography instrument. Each randomly chosen eye was evaluated 1 to 2 days (T0) before LASIK and 7 days (T1), 1 (T2), 2 (T3), 6 (T4), 12 (T5), and 16 (T6) months postoperatively. A Wilcoxon test, two-tailed paired t test, Friedman test, or analysis of variance were used for statistical comparisons.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Components of the integrated ocular surface/lacrimal gland unit.
RESULTS: Both corneal and conjunctival sensitivity were noted to be significantly decreased from preoperative levels at 1week, 1 month, 12 months, and 16 months postoperatively (P < 0.0002 at each time point). Symptom severity scores were significantly increased at 1 week, 12 months, and 16 months postoperatively (P < 0.007 at all time points). The mean Schirmer 1 test scores were 24 +/- 14 mm preoperatively, and they decreased to 18 +/- 14 mm by 1 month postoperatively (P < 0.001). Tear fluorescein clearance showed a linear increase postoperatively and was significantly greater than baseline (P < 0.001) at each time point. There was a significant increase in punctate corneal fluorescein staining at 1 week postoperatively (P < 0.0001), but staining returned to baseline by 12 months. There was a statistically significant increase in SRI 1 week postoperatively (P < 0.007) with return to baseline levels by 6 months.
CONCLUSIONS: Sensory denervation of the ocular surface after bilateral LASIK disrupts ocular surface tear dynamics and causes irritation symptoms. Patients undergoing LASIK should be informed of these risks.
- Corneal sensation remained reduced 16 months after LASIK
- Conjunctival sensation remained reduced 16 months after LASIK
- Tear clearance remained reduced 16 months after LASIK.