Modeling the biomechanics of laser corneal refractive surgery

J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2023 Sep:145:105998. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2023.105998. Epub 2023 Jun 29.


We present a finite element model of the human cornea used to simulate corneal refractive surgery according to the three most diffused laser procedures, i. e., photo-refractive keratectomy (PRK), laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE). The geometry used for the model is patient-specific in terms of anterior and posterior surfaces of the cornea and intrastromal surfaces originated by the planned intervention. The customization of the solid model prior to finite element discretization avoids the struggling difficulties associated with the geometrical modification induced by cutting, incision and thinning. Important features of the model include the identification of the stress-free geometry and an adaptive compliant limbus to account for the surrounding tissues. By the way of simplification, we adopt a Hooke material model extended to the finite kinematics, and consider only the preoperative and short-term postoperative conditions, disregarding the remodeling and material evolution aspects typical of biological tissues. Albeit simple and incomplete, the approach demonstrates that the post-operative biomechanical state of the cornea, after the creation of a flap or the removal of a small lenticule, is strongly modified with respect to the preoperative state and characterized by displacement irregularities and stress localizations.

Keywords: Finite element; Interface; LASIK; Patient-specific; Refractive surgery; SMILE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cornea / surgery
  • Humans
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ* / methods
  • Lasers
  • Myopia* / surgery