Do We Really Need to Wear Proper Eye Protection When Using Holmium: YAG Laser during Endourologic Procedures? Results from an Ex Vivo Animal Model on Pig Eyes

Luca Villa, Jonathan Cloutier, Eva Compérat, Peter Kronemberg, Frederic Charlotte, Laurent Berthe, Yann Rouchausse, Andrea Salonia, Francesco Montorsi, Olivier Traxer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: We sought to evaluate the effect of holmium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Ho:YAG) laser exposure on ex vivo pig eyes and to test the protective action of different glasses in preventing eye lesions in case of accident. Materials and Methods: We pointed the tip of a Ho:YAG laser fiber from different distances (0, 3, 5, 8, 10, and 20 cm, respectively) toward the center of the pupil of the pig eye. The Ho:YAG laser was activated for 1 or 5 seconds at three different settings (0.5 J-20 Hz, 1 J-10 Hz, and 2 J-10 Hz, respectively). The experiment was repeated using laser safety glasses and eyeglasses. A total of 78 pig eyes were used. The effects of the Ho:YAG laser on pig eyes were assessed by histopathology. Comparable laser emission experiments were performed on thermal paper at different distances using different pulse energies. Results: Ho:YAG laser-induced corneal lesions were observed in unprotected eyes, ranging from superficial burning lesions to full-thickness necrotic areas, and were directly related to pulse energy and time of exposure and inversely related to the distance from the eye. When the laser was placed 5 cm or more, no corneal damage was observed regardless of the laser setting and the time of exposure. Similar distance/energy level relationships were observed on thermal paper. No damage was observed to the lens or the retina in any of the Ho-YAG laser-treated eyes or in any of the eyes protected by laser safety and eyeglasses. Conclusions: Ho:YAG lasers can cause damage when set to high energy, but only to the cornea, from close distances (0-5 cm) and in the absence of eye protection. Eyeglasses are equally effective in preventing laser damage as laser safety glasses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-337
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Endourology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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