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Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2002 Jun;80(3):238-47.

Growth factors in corneal wound healing following refractive surgery: A review.

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  • 1Ophthalmology, Rayne Institute, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK.


The first part of this review article aims to provide important basic definitions of growth factor terminology, and to put forward a model for understanding the role of growth factors in a wound healing context. In the second part of the paper, we review the literature on growth factors in the cornea, including that on changes associated with wound healing following refractive surgery in the epithelial, stromal, and endothelial layers. The role of growth factors in stromal removal, corneal neovascularization, corneal innervation and wound healing is considered. The importance of the epithelial-stromal interaction is discussed, including the role of growth factors in keratocyte apoptosis. In the final section, we review the current literature on endogenous and exogenous modulation of growth factors in corneal wound healing. This includes important in vitro work but aims to emphasize clinically relevant results. Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) may have short-term complications such as pain and haze, whereas laser in situ keratomilieusis (LASIK) may have longer-term adverse effects on corneal biomechanics. The emerging technique of laser epithelial keratomilieusis (LASEK) provides an interesting alternative wound which may be less susceptible to the inherent complications of PRK and LASIK. At present, the phenomenon of iatrogenic keratectasia following LASIK is not fully understood, but these features of wound healing following PRK may be amenable to growth factor modulation.

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