Roughness of Excimer Laser Ablated Corneas With and Without Smoothing Measured With Atomic Force Microscopy
J Refract Surg. 2005 Sep-Oct;21(5):469-75.
To analyze the surface roughness of porcine corneas after excimer laser ablation with and without the smoothing procedure by means of atomic force microscopy.
Excimer laser photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) was performed on eight porcine corneas. Immediately following the procedure, smoothing was performed on four corneas using a viscous solution of 0.25% sodium hyaluronate. The corneas were examined in balanced salt solution after fixation in 2.5% glutaraldehyde solution using atomic force microscopy. Quantitative analysis of the ablated stromal surface topography was performed using the section analysis module of the atomic force microscopy software. Repeated measurements were made over small areas (< or =50 microm2) near the center of each ablation, with a vertical resolution of <1 nm.
Images of the ablated stromal surface showed undulations and granule-like features on the ablated surface of the specimens. The specimens on which the smoothing procedure was performed (root-mean-square [RMS] rough: 0.152 +/- 0.014 microm) were more regular (P < .001) than those on which PRK alone was performed (RMS rough: 0.229 +/- 0.018 microm).
Atomic force microscopy analysis requires a simpler preparation of the specimens with respect to that necessary for scanning electron microscopy; for this reason, atomic force microscopy techniques are more reliable for the study of biological surfaces and prove to be a feasible method to establish the differences when comparing different laser techniques. Our investigations highlight that although the laser cut of scanning-spot excimer laser systems is precise in removing even the smallest amounts of tissue, the smoothing technique may still be useful to reduce post-ablation roughness.