Measurement of Surgically Induced Corneal Deformations Using Three-Dimensional Confocal Microscopy

W. Matthew Petroll, Partha Roy, Charles J. Chuong, Brian Hall, H. Dwight Cavanagh, James V. Jester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to develop and apply a new set of experimental techniques for measuring the local deformations induced by partial-thickness corneal incisions in situ. Eight adult cat eyes were enucleated and cannulated, with corneal viability maintained as close to in vivo conditions as possible and intraocular pressure (TOP) carefully controlled. Experimental measurements were made pre/post radial keratotomy (RK) surgery in situ at IOPs of 15, 30, and 45 mm Hg. Incision depth and cross-sectional profiles were measured at the midpoint of selected incisions using three-dimensional (3-D) tandem scanning confocal microscopy (TSCM); central corneal curvature was estimated using a commercial corneal topographical analysis system, and corneal thickness was assessed by both 3-D TSCM and ultrasonic pachymetry. Corneas were then processed for light microscopy and incision depth was measured histologically. Finite element models were developed for comparison with the experimental measurements. There was no significant change in central corneal thickness (-5.3 ± 3.9%, n = 8) over the course of the experiments, demonstrating that normal endothelial cell function and normal stromal hydration was maintained. The in situ TSCM incision depth measurements were significantly correlated with the histological measurements (slope = 0.95, R = 0.854, p < 0.01, n = 13 incisions). Measured incision gape at the top (anterior) of the stroma was 64.9 ± 13.4, 87.3 ± 12.6, and 108.7 ± 14 μm at IOPs of 15, 30, and 45 mm Hg, respectively. The 3-D incision profiles were nonlinear in shape; comparison with the finite element models suggests that the shape of the wound profile may provide unique information regarding the shear stiffness of the cornea. Overall, the data suggest that TSCM measurements of the cross-sectional profile of the incisions immediately after RK under controlled in situ conditions provide important data regarding the mechanical behavior of the cornea after refractive surgery. These data should provide the foundation for future studies into the relationships between local tissue mechanics and corneal wound healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-164
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Biomechanics
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Finite element method
  • Radial keratotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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