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Am J Ophthalmol. 2009 May;147(5):774-8, 778.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2008.11.017. Epub 2009 Feb 5.

One-year follow-up of corneal confocal microscopy after corneal cross-linking in patients with post laser in situ keratosmileusis ectasia and keratoconus.

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  • 1Institute of Vision and Optics, University of Crete, Crete, Greece.



To investigate corneal tissue alterations after corneal collagen cross-linking in patients with post laser in situ keratosmileusis (LASIK) keratectasia and keratoconus.


Prospective comparative case series.


Five patients (5 eyes) with iatrogenic keratectasia after LASIK and 5 patients (5 eyes) with progressive keratoconus were included. All eyes underwent corneal cross-linking and were assessed by corneal in vivo confocal microscopy. Three normal/healthy and 3 post-LASIK without ectasia corneas were also examined as controls.


All corneas revealed normal epithelial thickness before and after surgery. Images of both keratoconic and post-LASIK corneal ectasia eyes revealed similar morphologic alterations. The subepithelial nerve plexus was absent immediately after treatment; regeneration of nerves was evident after the third postoperative month. Keratocytes were absent from the anterior 300 mum of the stroma in the first 3 months while the posterior stromal density of keratocytes was increased. Corneal collagen fibers in the anterior stroma were distributed unevenly in a net-like formation. Full-thickness keratocyte repopulation in the anterior and mid-corneal stroma was detected 6 months after treatment. The corneal endothelium did not undergo any significant changes, since the cell density and hexagonality was not found altered during the follow-up period.


Keratocyte nuclei apoptosis in the anterior and intermediate corneal stroma along with collagen alterations were observed during the first 3 postcorneal cross-linking months. Gradual keratocyte repopulation was demonstrated over the following months. Corneal alterations after corneal cross-linking were similar in both keratoconic and post-LASIK corneal ectasia eyes.

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