Aim: To evaluate changes in corneal polarisation properties and their influence on peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) thickness measurements after laser assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) by means of scanning laser polarimetry (SLP) with variable corneal polarisation compensator (VCC) in normal white subjects. Methods: SLP was performed by means of GDx VCC on 32 eyes of 32 normal subjects who underwent LASIK for ametropia correction. Corneal polarisation axis and magnitude and RNFL thickness were measured before and 8 days after LASIK. RNFL thickness data and corneal polarimetric data of one randomly selected eye per subject were analysed by the Wilcoxon signed ranks test. Correlations between corneal ablation depth, corneal polarimetric changes, and RNFL thickness changes were investigated using Spearman's rho test. Results: The corneal polarisation axis significantly shifted from 15. 1° (17.0°) to 6.9° (12.9°) (p = 0.00006) after LASIK and this change showed a strong correlation with corneal ablation depth (rho = -0.7, p = 0.00002). Among GDx parameters, TSNIT, SUP, and SD showed significant changes after LASIK and for SUP and SD these changes were well correlated with the shift in corneal polarisation axis (rho = 0.54, p = 0.03 and rho = 0.45, p = 0.01, respectively). SUP and SD changes were neutralised after compensating for corneal polarimetric changes but not TSNIT changes. NFI, a discriminating parameter, was found to be affected after LASIK only after compensating for corneal polarimetric changes. Conclusions: LASIK induces a shift in corneal polarisation axis which is responsible for inaccuracies in RNFL thickness measurements. A customised compensation for corneal polarimetric changes after LASIK allows normalisation of some of the thickness parameters except for TSNIT and NFI.
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