Alcohol versus brush PRK: Visual outcomes and adverse effects

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Lasers in Surgery and Medicine








complications; cornea; debridement; epithelium


Background and Objective A smooth corneal surface prior to laser ablation is important in order to achieve a favorable refractive outcome. In this study, we compare PRK outcomes following two commonly used methods of epithelial debridement: Amoils epithelial scrubber (brush) versus 20% ethanol (alcohol). Study Design/Patients and Methods We reviewed records of patients who underwent wavefront-optimized PRK for myopia or myopic astigmatism between January 2008 and June 2010. Two treatment groups (brush vs. alcohol) were compared in terms of uncorrected distance visual acuity (UDVA), manifest refraction spherical equivalent (MRSE), corrected distance visual acuity (CDVA), and complications at postoperative months 1, 3, 6, and 12. Results One thousand five hundred ninety-three eyes of 804 patients underwent PRK during the study period: 828 brush-treated eyes and 765 alcohol-treated eyes. At 6 months postoperatively UDVA was ≥20/20 in 94.7% of brush-treated eyes versus 94.4% of alcohol-treated eyes (P = 0.907). At 1 month a higher percentage of brush-treated eyes maintained or gained one or more lines CDVA compared to alcohol-treated eyes (P = 0.007), but there were no other differences in UDVA, MRSE, or CDVA at any point postoperatively. At 1 month 75.4% of brush-treated eyes versus 70.4% of alcohol-treated eyes were free of complications (P = 0.032), and there were fewer brush-treated eyes with corneal haze (4.0% vs. 6.9%, P = 0.012) and dry eye (8.9% vs. 14.4%, P = 0.001). Although corneal haze was slightly more frequent in the alcohol group, most was trace and not significant. Conclusions Although alcohol-assisted PRK had more minor complications in the early postoperative period, including corneal haze and dry eye, results for both groups beyond 1 month were comparable. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.