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Laser Eye Surgery Safe Long-Term: Study

No difference seen in annual rate of cell loss, researchers say

TUESDAY, Nov. 10, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Laser eye surgery doesn't appear to have long-term effects on the cells that line the inside of the cornea, a new study has found.

The study included 29 eyes of 16 patients who had undergone either photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) or laser in situ keratomileusis (Lasik) procedures. Photos of the cells lining the cornea (endothelial cells) were taken before and nine years after surgery. The researchers compared the annual rate of corneal endothelial cell loss in the eyes of the patients who had laser surgery with 42 eyes of people who didn't have laser surgery.

Nine years after laser surgery, the density of corneal endothelial cells was 5.3 percent less than it was before surgery. But the annual rate of cell loss (0.6 percent) was the same in patients who had surgery and those who didn't, the researchers found.

The study findings are published in the November issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

"Our results support the findings of numerous short-term studies that found no significant endothelial cell loss after Lasik and PRK," wrote Drs. Sanjay V. Patel and William M. Bourne, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"The importance of the findings in our study relates to using corneas that have undergone Lasik or PRK as donor tissue," they concluded. "Our findings of no difference in endothelial cell loss after keratorefractive surgery compared with normal eyes suggests that corneas after keratorefractive surgery should be suitable for posterior lamellar keratoplasty," a surgical treatment that uses donated tissue to correct corneal problems.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about Lasik.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 9, 2009
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