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Refractive Surgery in Children

Moran, Sarah MRCOphth; O’Keefe, Michael FRCS, FRCOphth

The Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology: July/August 2012 - Volume 1 - Issue 4 - p 235–239
doi: 10.1097/APO.0b013e31825ffff1
Review Article
Editor's Choice

Refractive surgery in children is controversial. The main indications are bilateral high ametropia and anisometropia where conventional treatment with spectacles or contact lens is not tolerated. Other reported indications include accommodative strabismus and previous cataract surgery. The most commonly performed procedures currently are surface ablation procedures using excimer laser. The main disadvantage of surface ablation procedures is refractive regression, which is more pronounced in higher degrees of ametropia. More recently, there is a growing number of studies evaluating the safety and effectiveness of phakic intraocular lenses (IOLs) as an alternative surgical management for children who are noncompliant with conventional treatment and unsuitable for laser ablative procedures. The advantages of phakic IOLs are reversibility, predictability, and lack of regression. The principal concern with phakic IOL insertion is long-term endothelial cell loss. Clear lens extraction has been performed in patients with shallow anterior chambers beyond the range of corneal laser refractive procedures; however, major drawbacks include loss of accommodation and significant risk of retinal detachment. In summary, results to date show that refractive surgery can be successfully performed in children and meets an important need in a select subgroup of patients who are recalcitrant to traditional therapy. Issues that remain controversial are the age at which to perform surgery, choice of procedure, need for anesthesia, instability of refractive errors in children, and long-term safety considerations.

From the Department of Ophthalmology, Children’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

Received for publication March 30, 2012; accepted May 17, 2012.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Sarah Moran, MB, Bch, BAO, MRCOphth, Department of Ophthalmology, The Children’s University Hospital, Temple St, Dublin 2, Ireland. E-mail:

© 2012Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology
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