Scattered UV irradiation during VISX excimer laser keratorefractive surgery

R. J. Hope, E. D. Weber, K. S. Bower, J. P. Pasternak, D. H. Sliney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the potential occupational health hazards associated with scattered ultraviolet (UV) radiation during photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) using the VISX Star S3 excimer laser. Setting: The Laser Vision Center, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Methods: Intraoperative radiometric measurements were made with the Ophir Power/Energy Meter (LaserStar Model PD-10 with silicon detector) during PRK treatments as well as during required calibration procedures at a distance of 20.3 cm from the left cornea. These measurements were evaluated using a worst-case scenario for exposure, and then compared with the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygeinists (ACGIH) Threshold Value Limits (TVL) to perform a risk/hazard analysis. Results: During the PRK procedures, the highest measured value was 248.4 nJ/pulse. During the calibration procedures, the highest measured UV scattered radiation level was 149.6 nJ/pulse. The maximum treatment time was 52 seconds. Using a worst-case scenario in which all treatments used the maximum power and time, the total energy per eye treated was 0.132 mJ/cm2 and the total UV radiation at close range (80 cm from the treated eye) was 0.0085 mJ/cm 2. With a workload of 20 patients, the total occupational exposure at 80 cm to actinic UV radiation in an 8-hour period would be 0.425 mJ/cm 2. Conclusions: The scattered actinic UV laser radiation from the VISX Star S3 excimer laser did not exceed occupational exposure limits during a busy 8-hour workday, provided that operating room personnel were at least 80 cm from the treated eye. While the use of protective eyewear is always prudent, this study demonstrates that the trace amounts of scattered laser emissions produced by this laser do not pose a serious health risk even without the use of protective eyewear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-246
Number of pages4
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Corneal refractive surgery
  • Excimer laser
  • Exposure risk
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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