This paper represents an update on a study that has been reported elsewhere (Nagy ZZ et al: Ophthalmology 104:375-380, 1997). The aim of the study was to evaluate the clinical and light- and electron-microscopic effects of ultraviolet-B (UV-B) exposure on the outcome of photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). A total of 42 pigmented rabbits were used in the study. One eye from each of 12 rabbits received a 193 nm 45-microm deep (-5.0 diopters [D]) excimer laser PRK, one eye from each of 12 rabbits received a 135-microm deep (-15.0 D) excimer laser PRK, and one eye from each of 12 rabbits received a 270 microm deep (-30.0 D) excimer laser PRK. Twenty-one days after PRK, six of the laser-treated eyes from each group were exposed to 100 mJ/cm2 UV-B (280-320 nm). The other six rabbits from the PRK groups received no further treatment. One eye from each of six rabbits received only UV-B irradiation, serving as control. Subepithelial haze was evaluated before and after UV-B irradiation. Clinical changes were followed by laser tyndallometry, confocal corneal biomicroscopy, ultrasound biomicroscopy, and endothelial specular microscopy. Corneal morphology was assessed 4, 8, and 12 weeks after UV-B exposure, employing light microscopic and transmission electron-microscopic techniques (TEM). Eyes only exposed to 100 mJ/cm2 UV-B exhibited keratitis for 2 days, but showed no haze and were histologically normal at all time intervals. The PRK-UV-B-irradiated rabbit eyes exhibited a significant increase of stromal haze compared to the eyes receiving PRK alone; this phenomenon correlated with the depth of photoablation. The severity of clinical findings also correlated with the previously attempted photoablation depth; in PRK-UV-B-irradiated eyes the symptoms were much more serious than in eyes treated with PRK alone. Histologically, the main difference between the UV-B-irradiated and nonirradiated-post-PRK eyes was the presence of anterior stromal extracellular vacuolization in the UV-B-exposed eyes. The vacuolated foci were confined to the PRK treatment area, contained increased numbers of keratocytes and showed a disorganization of normal collagen lamellae. Transmission electron microscopy revealed activated keratocytes containing abundant rough endoplasmic reticulum, prominent Golgi zones, and extracellular vacuoles filled with amorphous material. The haze and morphological changes showed a tendency to incomplete resolution over a period of 12 weeks. Ultraviolet-B exposure during post-PRK stromal healing exacerbates and prolongs clinical symptoms and the stromal healing response, which is manifest biomicroscopically by augmentation of subepithelial haze. The findings suggest that excessive ocular UV-B exposure should be avoided during the period of post-PRK stromal repair and that UV-B may modulate the response of tissues to excimer 193 nm, and perhaps, other laser energy in general.
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