Purpose. To determine the stability of the laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) flap in a rabbit model when subjected to vertical acceleration at nine times the force of gravity (+9 Gz) in an aircraft cockpit ejection simulator. Methods. Thirty-six eyes from 25 New Zealand white rabbits underwent LASIK flap creation without laser photoablation. One month after surgery, the rabbits were sedated and harnessed in a cockpit ejection seat simulator used to train United States Air Force pilots. They then underwent a controlled rapid-sequence ejection at +9 Gz. Subsequently, the rabbits were euthanized and the corneas harvested for microscopic examination. Refractive measurements and corneal examination were made before LASIK flap creation and prior to and after the +9 Gz ejections. Determination of LASIK flap dislocation was based on clinical observation of flap slippage or a significant shift in preejection to postejection cylinder axis. Results. The average preoperative refraction of the rabbit eye was +1.83 D + 3.25 D × 086 degrees. The average change from pre-ejection to postejection was 0.04 D sphere, 0.02 D cylinder, 6.8 axis degrees, and 0.04 D spherical equivalent. The pre-ejection to postejection measurements were not statistically significantly different by a paired t test. Laser in situ keratomileusis flap dislocation or ejection-induced corneal folds or striae were not clinically observed. Histologic examination revealed well-healed LASIK flaps but no reactive keratocytes at the central stromal-stromal interface. Conclusions. Healed LASIK flaps as created in this rabbit model without laser ablation are stable when subjected to a rapid vertical ejection at nine times the force of gravity.
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