Post-LASIK Ectasia (Grand Rounds)

From EyeWiki
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  • 33-year-old healthy female with history of LASIK OU in 2004 presented with blurred vision in both eyes for several months duration, left worse than right
  • Denies eye pain but complains of problems with glare at night

Exam Findings

  • Normal external exam
  • Refraction with high sphere and high astigmatism prescription
  • Corneal topography with high irregular astigmatism
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Differential Diagnosis

Additional Clinic Photos

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  • Post-LASIK ectasia


  • Incidence rate of 0.04 percent-0.6 percent occurring primarily after LASIK and usually developing within one-year post-procedure.
  • Histopathologic findings include interlamellar and interfibrillar slippage through disruption of lamellar bonds in the stroma isolated to ectatic regions only. Additional findings include breaks in Bowman’s layer and larger than normal interlamellar clefts.
  • LASIK flap no longer contributes to the tensile strength of the cornea so residual stromal bed thickness (RSB) is remaining load bearing tissue.
  • Ectasia risk criteria for predicting which patients are at greatest risk of developing post-LASIK ectasia based on: 1. abnormal pre-operative topography, 2. low RSB, 3. young age, 4. low pre-op corneal thickness, and 5. high myopia.
  • Percent tissue altered (PTA) takes into account many of these factors (corneal thickness, ablation depth from myopia, and flap thickness) to provide a more individualized screening metric.
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Prognosis and Future Directions

  • Corneal cross-linking using the standard protocol with epithelial removal and 30-minute treatment duration has been shown to halt the ectatic process in more than 95 percent of treated eyes. This treatment has been proven effective in post-LASIK ectasia as well as keratoconus, and long-term results show good stability over 10-year follow-up. The standard protocol is now FDA-approved for use in the US and is being offered at the USC Roski Eye Institute.


  • Rabinowitz YS, et al. Computer-Assisted Corneal Topography in Keratoconous. Refractive and Corneal Surgery (1989); 5(6):400-408.
  • Lopez A, Garcia R, Bernfeld E, Hernandez-Camarenda J. Ectasia Risk in Topography.
  • Randleman JB, Woodward M, Lynn MJ, Stulting RD. Risk Assessment for Ectasia after Corneal Refractive Surgery. Ophthalmology. (2008); Jan 115(1):37-50.
  • Edelhauser et al. Corneal Ectasia After Excimer Laser Keratorefractive Surgery: Histopathology, Ultrastructure, and Pathophysiology. Ophthalmology (2008); 115(12):2181-2192.
  • Rabinowitz YS. Keratoconus. Survey of Ophthalmology 1998 Jan-Feb; 42(4):297-319.
  • Richoz O, Mavrakanas N, Pajic B, Hafezi F. Corneal Collagen Cross-Linking for Ectasia after LASIK and Photorefractive Keratectomy. Ophthalmology (2013); 120(7):1354-1359.
  • Raiskup F, Theuring A, Pillunat LE, Spoerl E. Corneal Collagen Crosslinking with Riboflavin and Ultraviolet- A Light in Progressive Keratoconus: Ten-Year Results. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2015 Jan; 41(1):41-46.


  • J. Bradley Randleman MD, Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology,
  • Arezu Haghighi, MD, PGY-2 Ophthalmology resident,
Original article contributed by: add
All contributors: Brad H. Feldman, M.D. and Jesse L. Berry, MD
Assigned editor:
Review: Not reviewed