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Functional vision and corneal changes after laser in situ keratomileusis determined by contrast sensitivity, glare testing, and corneal topography

J T Holladay, D R Dudeja, J Chang
Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery 1999, 25 (5): 663-9

PURPOSE: To demonstrate the functional vision and corneal changes following laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) determined by contrast sensitivity, glare testing, and corneal topography.

SETTING: University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas, USA.

METHODS: Seven patients ranging in age from 20 to 61 years who had bilateral LASIK were evaluated preoperatively and 1 day, 1 week, and 1 and 6 months postoperatively. Visual acuity, using letters on the Baylor Visual Acuity Testor (BVAT) at 98% (standard acuity) and 13% contrast, and the contrast threshold were determined at 3 light levels (darkness, medium brightness acuity testor [BAT], high BAT). Pupil sizes were measured at each level, and corneal topography was performed at each visit.

RESULTS: The greatest changes were found 1 day postoperatively: The contrast threshold worsened by a mean of 0.6 lines +/- 1.0 (SD) (P = .05) in darkness, 0.4 +/- 0.7 lines (P = .05) at medium BAT, and 0.8 +/- 0.7 lines (P = .002) at high BAT. The 98% contrast acuity decreased a mean of 1.4 +/- 1.6 lines (P = .01) in darkness, 1.0 +/- 2.0 lines (P = .09) at medium BAT, and 0.8 +/- 2.3 lines (P = .22) at high BAT. The 13% contrast acuity decreased a mean of 2.2 +/- 2.6 lines (P = .01) in darkness, 1.3 +/- 1.9 lines (P = .02) at medium BAT, and 1.4 +/- 2.5 lines (P = .07) at high BAT. The predicted corneal acuity (PCA) obtained from corneal topography decreased by a mean of 3.3 +/- 3.1 lines (P = .002), and the asphericity (Q-value) increased by an average of +0.35 +/- 0.67 (P = .07). All values returned to the preoperative levels by 1 week except PCA, asphericity, visual acuity at 13%, and contrast threshold in darkness, which improved slightly but had not returned to baseline by 6 months. The 98% contrast acuity at medium BAT improved by 0.2 +/- 1.0 lines (P = .34) and 0.3 +/- 0.8 lines (P = .16) at high BAT at 1 month. The 98% contrast acuity values remained 0.3 lines over baseline through 6 months. Corneal topography showed that all corneas became oblate after LASIK to a mean Q-value of +0.47 +/- 0.40 (P = .0001) and PCA was decreased by 1.6 +/- 1.1 lines (P = .0002) at 6 months.

CONCLUSIONS: Functional vision changes do occur after LASIK. The optical quality of the cornea is reduced and the asphericity becomes oblate. Changes in functional vision worsen as the target contrast diminishes and the pupil size increases. These findings indicate that the oblate shape of the cornea following LASIK is the predominant factor in the functional vision decrease.

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