Evaluation of current techniques of corneal epithelial removal in hyperopic photorefractive keratectomy

J Cataract Refract Surg. 1998 Aug;24(8):1070-8. doi: 10.1016/s0886-3350(98)80100-4.


Purpose: To determine the efficacy of 3 current methods used to remove corneal epithelium prior to photorefractive correction of hyperopia and to compare clinical data in patients who had rotary brush or blunt scrape epithelial removal in the treatment of hyperopic photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).

Setting: University of Ottawa Eye Institute, Ottawa General Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Methods: The epithelium from human eye-bank eyes was removed using a Paton spatula, 15% alcohol, and the Amoils rotating plastic brush. The effects were examined by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Twelve month postoperative data were obtained on 25 eyes with refractions of +1.00 to +4.00 diopters (D) that had been treated for hyperopia with the VISX Star excimer laser, using blunt scrape or the rotary brush to remove the corneal epithelium.

Results: All 3 methods effectively removed corneal epithelium. The Paton spatula, however, left small nicks in Bowman's layer. Both the rotating brush and alcohol debridement left Bowman's layer intact. Alcohol treatment required follow-up epithelial debris removal, while brushing left minimal amounts of debris. There was a strong trend toward rapid epithelial healing in the brushed corneas compared with the scraped ones, but this was not statistically significant. Clinically, at 12 months postoperatively, brushed corneas showed a trend toward more superior outcomes than scraped corneas in actual refractive outcome, uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA), lines of UCVA gained, and predictability of the desired outcomes. However, only the outcome in UCVA of 20/40 or better and the decreased incidence of haze in the brushed corneas over scraped ones were statistically significant.

Conclusions: Both alcohol and the rotating brush provide a quick, effective means of removing the corneal epithelium with minimal risk of damage to Bowman's layer. In our experience, the brush technique was as effective as and possibly superior to the blunt scrape for epithelial removal in hyperopic PRK.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Debridement / methods*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / surgery*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperopia / pathology
  • Hyperopia / surgery*
  • Lasers, Excimer
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures* / instrumentation
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy*
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Safety
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity
  • Wound Healing