To evaluate the safety and efficacy of corneal minimized-volume ablation with accelerated cross-linking in improving visual function in keratoconus eyes.
Through a pilot study, 25 eyes of 25 consecutive patients with keratoconus grade I–III were recruited that underwent corneal transepithelial photorefractive keratectomy with “minimized volume” ablation profile and accelerated corneal cross-linking in the same session. Corrected and uncorrected distance visual acuities, manifest refraction, corneal curvature and higher-order aberrations, endothelial cells, and the ocular modulation transfer function were assessed preoperatively and postoperatively, with a minimum follow-up of 6 months. A P value < 0.05 was the threshold of statistical significance.
At 8.2 ± 3.6 months postoperatively, the mean corrected and uncorrected distance visual acuities (LogMAR) were 0.07 ± 0.15 and 0.45 ± 0.39, significantly improving from the baseline of 0.24 ± 0.24 (P8m-before = 0.005) and 1.12 ± 0.33 (P8m-before < 0.001), respectively. Spherical equivalent was −2.80 ± 2.72 diopters (D), significantly decreasing from the baseline of −6.61 ± 3.06 D (P8m-before < 0.001), whereas the attempted corrected spherical equivalent was−2.30 ± 1.22 D. Meanwhile, a significant reduction was found in higher-order aberration, along with the postoperative improvement in ocular modulation transfer function. Corneal surface morphological parameters were found with significant decreases postoperatively (index of surface variance: P8m-before = 0.003; index of vertical asymmetry: P8m-before = 0.005; keratoconus index: P8m-before = 0.004; center keratoconus index: P8m-before = 0.003; and index of height decentration: P8m-before < 0.001). Nevertheless, no significant change was found in posterior corneal curvature or endothelial cell density between pre- and post-operative periods.
Corneal minimized-volume ablation with accelerated cross-linking was an effective and safe option for correction of mild refractive error, leading to significant improvement of visual function in patients with keratoconus.