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J Refract Surg. 2017 Mar 1;33(3):193-198. doi: 10.3928/1081597X-20161221-01.

Biomechanical Weakening of Different Re-treatment Options After Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE).



To determine the corneal weakening induced by different re-treatment options after small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) and investigate the potential of corneal cross-linking (CXL) to reestablish the original corneal stress resistance.


A total of 96 freshly enucleated porcine corneas were used. The initial refractive correction was defined to be -11.00 diopters (D) and the required enhancement to be -3.00 D. Three different re-treatment options were analyzed: -3D Re-SMILE, -3D photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) on top of the SMILE cap, and cap-to-flap conversion and -3D excimer ablation on the stromal bed (LASIK). The control condition did not receive any treatment. Subsequently, accelerated CXL (9 mW/cm2, 10 min) was performed in two groups with currently common enhancement techniques: following cap-to-flap conversion (-3D LASIK enhancement) and in controls. Biomechanical properties were measured with stress-strain extensometry ranging from 1.27 to 12.5 N.


The Re-SMILE and PRK enhancement did not significantly reduce the overall elastic modulus of the cornea compared to controls (24.7 ± 2.23 and 22.7 ± 2.61 versus 23.8 ± 3.35 MPa, P ≥ .176), whereas LASIK enhancement did (22.2 ± 3.37 MPa, P = .048). CXL treatment significantly increased the elastic modulus compared to all non-cross-linked conditions (P ≤.001). Refractive surgery decreased the overall elastic modulus by 7%, whereas CXL increased it by 20%.


In enhancement, the corneal biomechanical integrity is less affected with both Re-SMILE and PRK enhancement. Corneal weakening through laser refractive surgery is small compared to the stiffening effect after CXL. [J Refract Surg. 2017;33(3):193-198.].

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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