Purpose: The aim of this study is to evaluate the potential use of bovine type I collagen as an adjuvant to excimer laser keratectomy. Method: A suspension of collagen with the capability to polymerize into a gel was applied to the anterior corneal surface of freshly enucleated porcine eyes, using 35.0 diopter (D), 45.5 D, or 52.0 D contact lenses as molds. Keratometry, photokeratoscopy, slit-lamp photography, scanning electron microscopy, and light microscopy were performed on the new surfaces. Furthermore, an irregular corneal surface was created and a suspension of collagen was applied to mask protruding irregularities, therefore creating a smooth surface that was subjected to excimer laser keratectomy. Ablation rates for both collagen and cornea were measured. Results: Collagen suspension placed on a cornea and molded with contact lenses created a smooth-surfaced gel that conformed to the shape of the contact lens and adhered to the anterior cornea; it was optically smooth and regular as shown by photokeratoscopy, keratometry, and scanning electron microscopy. The corneal curvature was altered in accordance with the base curvature of the contact lens used. Results of keratometry showed resolution of pre-existing astigmatism without induction of new astigmatism. The ablation rate of the gel was not measurably different than that of cornea; hence, when applied to an irregular corneal surface, a smooth surface was created after excimer laser ablation. Conclusion: This study supports the potential value of collagen gel as an adjuvant to excimer laser keratectomy for removal of corneal irregularities as well as for correction of myopia or hyperopia with or without astigmatism.
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