||Water content in the cornea may affect the outcome of its excimer laser ablation, especially in presbyopic patients with myopic refraction. This hypothesis can be tested by scanning the cornea in the terahertz (THz) range to determine its hydration level.
Purpose: To study the effect of hydration of the cornea determined by non-contact THz scanning and its biomechanical parameters on the results of photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) in an experiment.
Material and methods: PRK was performed using the Nidek EC-5000 QUEST excimer laser on 8 rabbit eyes. Corneal hydration was evaluated by determining the reflection coefficient (RC) in the THz electromagnetic radiation range before PRK, after 3-5 days, and after 1, 2, 3, and 4 months. Clinical examination included autorefractometry, assessment of corneal thickness and other anatomical and optical parameters of the anterior eye segment (Galilei G6, Ziemer Ophthalmic Systems AG 6.0.2, Switzerland), measurement of corneal hysteresis (CH) and corneal resistance factor (CRF) using the Ocular Response Analyzer (ORA; Reichert, USA), as well as tear production (Schirmer test).
Results: The initial water content in the cornea has a significant effect on the thickness of the removed layer, i.e. on the PRK effect, with correlation coefficient of Rs= -0.976 (p<0.01). The correlation between CH and the ablation depth is less pronounced (Rs=0.643), and CRF had no correlation with it (Rs= -0.089). Biomechanical indicators of the cornea depend on its hydration: changes in CH and CRF after excimer laser ablation qualitatively coincide with changes in RC, the correlation coefficient between RC and the initial value of CH is R= -0.619 (moderate negative correlation).
Conclusion: THz scanning is an effective non-contact technology for monitoring corneal hydration level. The mismatch of the hypoeffect of keratorefractive excimer laser intervention planned for patients with presbyopia with the actual outcome can be caused by individual decrease in the initial water content in the cornea.