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J Refract Surg. 2003 Jan-Feb;19(1):15-23.

Effect of beam size on the expected benefit of customized laser refractive surgery.

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University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain.



Customized laser surgery attempts to correct higher order aberrations, as well as defocus and astigmatism. The success of such a procedure depends on using a laser beam that is small enough to produce fine ablation profiles needed to correct higher order aberrations.


Wave aberrations were obtained from a population of 109 normal eyes and 4 keratoconic eyes using a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor. We considered a theoretical customized ablation in each eye, performed with beams of 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 mm in diameter. We then calculated the residual aberrations remaining in the eye for the different beam sizes. Retinal image quality was estimated by means of the modulation transfer function (MTF), computed from the residual aberrations. Fourier analysis was used to study spatial filtering of each beam size.


The laser beam acts like a spatial filter, smoothing the finest features in the ablation profile. The quality of the correction declines steadily when the beam size increases. A beam of 2 mm is capable of correcting defocus and astigmatism. Beam diameters of 1 mm or less may effectively correct aberrations up to fifth order.


Large diameter laser beams decrease the ability to correct higher order aberrations. A top-hat laser beam of 1 mm (Gaussian with FWHM of 0.76 mm) is small enough to produce a customized ablation for typical human eyes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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