Corneal Tissue Welding With Infrared Laser Irradiation After Clear Corneal Incision
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Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of infrared lasers for corneal welding to seal corneal cuts done in an experimental animal model. Materials and Methods: Full-thickness corneal cuts on freshly enucleated bovine eyes were irradiated with infrared (809-nm diode, 980-nm diode, 1070-nm YLF, and 1980-nm Tm:YAP) lasers to get immediate laser welding. An 809-nm laser was used with the topical application of indocyanine green to enhance the photothermal interaction at the weld site. In total, 60 bovine eyes were used in this study; 40 eyes were used in the first part of the study for the determination of optimal welding parameters (15 eyes were excluded because of macroscopic carbonization, opacification, or corneal shrinkage; 2 eyes were used for control), and 20 eyes were used for further investigation of more promising lasers (YLF and Tm: YAP). Laser wavelength, irradiating power, exposure time, and spot size were the dose parameters, and optimal dose for immediate closure with minimal thermal damage was estimated through histological examination of welded samples. Results: In the first part of the study, results showed that none of the applications was satisfactory. Full-thickness success rates were 28% (2 of 7) for 809-nm and for 980-nm diode lasers and 67% (2 of 3) for 1070-nm YLF and (4 of 6) for 1980-nm Tm: YAP lasers. In the second part of the study, YLF and Tm: YAP lasers were investigated with bigger sample size. Results were not conclusive but promising again. Five corneal incisions were full-thickness welded out of 10 corneas with 1070-nm laser, and 4 corneal incisions were partially welded out of 10 corneas with 1980-nm laser in the second part of the study. Conclusions: Results showed that noteworthy corneal welding could be obtained with 1070-nm YLF laser and 1980-nm Tm: YAP laser wavelengths. Furthermore, in vitro and in vivo studies will shed light on the potential usage of corneal laser welding technique.
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