Long-term incidence of dry eyes and visual aberrations after corneal refractive surgery
Hilbert, Samuel G.
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INTRODUCTION/PURPOSE: Billions of people world wide suffer from refractive errors requiring glasses, contact lenses, or other means of correction to enable them to see better. Many people seeking permanent means to correct their vision consider undergoing corneal refractive laser surgeries (CRLS), photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK), or laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK). These surgeries have been shown to improve vision, but are not without risks for complications intra-operatively and postoperatively. Few studies have looked at the long-term incidence of postoperative complications such as dry eyes and visual aberrations and the associated preoperative risk factors. It is the aim of this study to examine the long-term incidence of dry eyes and visual aberrations (starbursts, halos, glare) after CRLS, and assess for preoperative risk factors associated with the persistence of these symptoms after surgery. METHODS: This study consisted of 319 patients identified for undergoing PRK, LASEK, or LASIK, at Boston Laser between December 2009 and January 2014. The participants in this study completed a novel online questionnaire consisting of questions to assess dry eye and visual aberration symptoms, and included questions adapted from the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI). Postoperative dry eye symptoms were measured based on the OSDI score and a new dry eye measurement score created for this study's questionnaire. Presence or absence of visual aberration symptoms postoperatively were measured based on a score created for this study and derived from the calculation of the OSDI score. Additionally, a retrospective chart review was conducted of the 319 participants' medical charts to gather and assess for preoperative risk factors related to the long-term incidence of both dry eye and visual aberration symptoms. RESULTS: Our data found a significant association (p < 0.05) that suggests a relationship between development of long-term dry eye symptoms and the following preoperative variables: pupil size, flap thickness, and dry eye risk assessment (including: Zone Quick test values ≤ 9.0mm, contact lens use, and dry eyes with and without contact lenses). No significant association (p > 0.05) was found between the novel dry eye score and the preoperative factors, but it did approach significance with two variables, necessitating further investigation: gender and actual ablation. No significance (p >0.05) was found in the association between the preoperative dry eye risk assessment and severity of postoperative symptoms as gathered using the OSDI score. Our data found a significant association (p < 0.05) that suggests an increased risk for development of long-term visual aberrations symptoms postoperatively with the following preoperative variables: cylindrical manifest refraction, flat K, and greater actual flap thickness. As well as identifying two other possible variables that approached significance requiring further investigation: steep K and preoperative visual aberrations risk (including: spherical manifest refraction ≥ -6.00, astigmatic manifest refraction ≥ -2.00, and pupil diameter ≥ 7.0). The data showed a significant association (p < 0.05) between postoperative symptom presence and the aforementioned preoperative visual aberrations risk. Our data showed no significance (p > 0.05) when comparing the difference between mean OSDI, dry eye, and visual aberration scores between participants grouped by years since surgery. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: Our data found a significant relationship between long-term dry eye risk after CRLS and preoperative pupil size, flap thickness, and dry eye risk assessment. Similarly the data also displayed a significant association between long-term visual aberration risk after CRLS and greater preoperative cylindrical manifest refraction, flat K, and flap thickness. These findings contribute to the risk factors identified in similar short-term follow-up studies, and support the need for increased research into the risk factors and long-term incidence of dry eyes and visual aberrations after CRLS. While the data showed no significance between participants grouped by years since surgery and reported postoperative symptoms, the OSDI mean scores did approach significance (p = 0.088), suggesting that further research with a greater survey population is required.