Risk factors and prognosis for corneal ectasia after LASIK

Ophthalmology. 2003 Feb;110(2):267-75. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(02)01727-X.


Purpose: To review cases of corneal ectasia after laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK), identify preoperative risk factors, and evaluate methods and success rates of visual rehabilitation for these cases.

Design: Retrospective nonrandomized comparative trial.

Participants: Ten eyes from seven patients identified as developing corneal ectasia after LASIK, 33 previously reported ectasia cases, and two control groups with uneventful LASIK and normal postoperative courses: 100 consecutive cases (first control group), and 100 consecutive cases with high myopia (> 8 diopters [D]) preoperatively (second control group).

Methods: Retrospective review of preoperative and postoperative data for each case compared with that of previously reported cases and cases with uneventful postoperative courses.

Main outcome measures: Preoperative refraction, topographic features, residual stromal bed thickness (RSB), time to the development of ectasia, number of enhancements, final best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), and method of final correction.

Results: Length of follow-up averaged 23.4 months (range, 6-48 months) after LASIK. Mean time to the development of ectasia averaged 16.3 months (range, 1-45 months). Preoperative refraction averaged -8.69 D compared with -5.37 D for the first control group (P = 0.005). Preoperatively, 88% of ectasia cases met criteria for forme fruste keratoconus, compared with 2% of the first control group (P < 0.0000001) and 4% of the second control group (P = 0.0000001). Seven eyes (70%) had RSB <250 microm, as did 16% of eyes in the first control group and 46% of the second control group. The mean RSB for ectasia cases (222.8 microm) was significantly less than that for the first control group (293.6 micro m, P = 0.0004) and the second control group (256.5 microm; P = 0.04). Seven eyes (70%) had enhancements. Only 10% of eyes lost more than one line of BCVA, and all patients eventually achieved corrected vision of 20/30 or better. One case required penetrating keratoplasty (10%), while all others required rigid gas-permeable contact lenses for correction.

Conclusions: Significant risk factors for the development of ectasia after LASIK include high myopia, forme fruste keratoconus, and low RSB. All patients had at least one risk factor other than high myopia, and significant differences remained even when controlling for myopia. Multiple enhancements were common among affected cases, but their causative role remains unknown. We did not identify any patients who developed ectasia without recognizable preoperative risk factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contact Lenses
  • Cornea / pathology*
  • Corneal Diseases / etiology*
  • Corneal Diseases / therapy
  • Corneal Topography
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / etiology
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myopia / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications* / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Visual Acuity