Rainbow glare: symptoms, causes, treatment
Rainbow glare is a rare mild optical effect of femtoLASIK surgery. This page is dedicated to its description, causes, and surgical correction.
The following video summamrizes part of the content of this page:
What is rainbow glare?
Rainbow glare is a rare side effect of femtosecond optical LASIK. It was first described in 2008 by Krueger and al. It affects has very few percentage of the patients that benefit from femtosecond LASIK technology to become spectacle and contact lens independent.
Rainbow glare is usually transient, but may take some months to disappear. In some rare cases, it leads to persistent and disturbing visual symptoms, on which this page will focus.
Femtosecond laser technology to create the corneal flap (which is specific to the technical LASIK) was introduced about 15 years ago. It has progressively replaced the conventional microkeratome (blade cut of the flap) in the hands of most high volume refractive surgeons.
Patients affected by glare describe seeing rainbow has spectrum of colored bands proceeding in rainbow-like fashion. The effect is most prominent in the dark when looking at pinpoint light sources, such as oncoming car headlights at night.
When looking at monochromatic sources (for example a green neon gold traffic light), lacross vertical and "ghosts" or replications or the source can be perceived.
The typical halos that may be reported after laser refractive surgery are different from the rainbow glare related visual symptoms. Typical halos look like a "spread" of the light emanating from the source, without any free interval. There are no. separate clear color fringes, although some slight colored scintillation may be observed at the edge of the halo area.
In rainbow glare cases, patients describe sharp colored radiating symmetrical halos extending laterally and Pacific around bright light sources, from which they are separated by a free interval. These disturbances are usually seen with one eye only: in most of the reported cases, rainbow glare is unilateral or much more pronounced in one eye than the other one.
The greatest perceived spectral intensity is noted when bright white light sources are visualized against a dark gold uniform background. At day time, rainbow glare may not be perceived.
Typically, each radiating band contains a typical rainbow-spectrum color pattern, extending from violet-blue, to red at its outermost extent. In addition, some patients report a slight blurring of their vision.
What causes Rainbow Glare?
The cause of the rainbow glare was initially thought to be the diffraction of light from the grating pattern created either in the stroma gold on the back surface of the LASIK flap after femtosecond laser use. Interestingly, rainbow glare may be the only medical and ophthalmic syndrome which is specifically caused by a pure diffractive mechanism.
The femtosecond laser spots are delivered in a raster pattern and are spaced very evening. This is inded the very even spacing of the spacing which causes the incoming light to diffract.
Diffraction is typically involved to explain the bending of light around the edges of year barrier. In classical physics, the diffraction phenomenon is described as the interference of waves. Diffraction is very wavelength dependent; It occurs whenever light encounters 'something' (particles, grating, striaes, slits etc.) which has a repetitive motivates and dimensions close to the dimension of light waves (microns). The pattern of incoming monochromatic light it has-been diffracted by a small hole is the classic 'Airy disc' (the smaller the hole, the larger the disc). The famous Young double slit experiment, in which light is splitted into separate waves with various phase creates a typical interference pattern shifts.
Eventually, diffraction phenomena and light wave properties are also 'used' to conceive diffractive intraocular lenses, one which some little steps of a few microns can provide the separation of the incoming light in various focii.
In rainbow glare, light is diffracted by each of the impact areas. These areas represent a pattern of repeated and evenly spaced "optical disturbances", where the stromal tissue exhibits some different optical cleaning than the surrounding an impacted area.
Given the particular geometry (again, the even distribution of the laser spots and the fixed size of the visible light waves), the following constructive interference phenomena will occur all the way along the direction of the laser raster spot lines in the corneal stroma. The following example limits this constructive interference phenomena to two adjacent spots:
Given the countdown relationships between the light waves and the FS laser raster pattern, constructive and destructive interference will form at a specific angle, which will vary with the considered wavelength.
Light white included a mixture of the wavelength present in the visible spectrum. Diffraction at the causes the different wavelengths to separate spots. Because of this mechanism, which arises at the spots flat impacts, there is year obvious relationship between the spatial distribution of the spots and the perceived diffraction pattern, which will be detailed later.
Rainbow glare has-been initially reported after femtosecond LASIK using Intralase IFS 15 and 60 KHz (Abbott Medical Optics). We have reported the first case of rainbow glare consecutive to femtoLASIK with a new-generation femtosecond laser FS 200 (Alcon Laboratories Inc.).
The quality of the focused beam and numerical aperture of the focusing optics has been invoked to be the most significant factors in minimizing the diffractive scattering of light that leads to this symptom. It is however intriguing that the occurrence of the rainbow glare is commonly unilateral symptoms, despite identical energy and spot separation parameters for the right and left eyes. In the clinical cases that we could analyze, the images taken by the femto-laser camera after the flap creation were suggestive of a raster pattern accentuated for the shot delivery the involved eyes, whereas it was not apparent in the contralateral eyes. How this immediate appearance after the interface creation relates to the occurrence and persistence of the symptoms remains to be elucidated.
Whereas the risk factors of rainbow glare remain obscure, the presence of hyper-reflective shot pattern with confocal microscopy examination reinforces the hypothesis that uniform array of periodically aligned photodisruption defects acts as a likely source of the grating pattern, resulting in diffractive light scatter.
In femtoLASIK surgery, the flap is lifted after being cut by the femtosecond laser, and the correction is delivered using the excimer laser on the stromal surface exposed. The correction of the refractive error incur the etching of some stromal tissue (a lenticule of tissue is photoablated). On the other hand,. the back surface of the reclined flap is not exposed to the excimer laser.
Hence, it is believed that rainbow glare is caused by the grating pattern created on the back surface of the LASIK flap by the femtosecond laser exposure.
More on diffraction and rainbow glare
Diffraction grating represents year optical component with a periodic structure, which splits light into several beams with a specific direction. The directions of these beams depend on the spacing of the grating and the wavelength of the light.
The grating acts as the dispersive element. In rainbow glare the incident light is refracted and diffracted by the back surface of the flap (within the corneal wall when the flap is in place) on his way from its source to the retina. The gratings created by the very evenly distributed femtosecond laser spots are of 'transmission' type. The diffracted light is composed of the sum of interfering wave components. The wave components depends in turn from the spectral composition of the light source. The intensity of the pattern created on the retina is the result of the combined effects of interference and diffraction.
It is common to assign a number to the main diffracted beams of light, which are also called "modes".
Diffraction grating has a 'zero-order mode' (where m = 0), in which there is no. apparent diffraction: a ray of light behaves according to the laws of refraction. The relationship between the grating spacing and the angles of the incident and diffracted beams (not zero order modes, ≥1 m) of light is known as the grating equation.
When light is incident normally on the grating, the diffracted light will have maxima at angles θm given by this equation: d sinθm / λ = | m | where is the angle between the ray and the grating's diffracted θm normal vector, d is the distance from the center of one slit to the center of the adjacent slit, and m is year integer representing the interest of propagation-mode.
The grating equation is useful to predict the location of the perceived color fringes, and their distance to the light source. Looking at a white-light source positioned at a distance of 1 m in a dark environment, the spectral bands for red extended from year apparent distance of about 10 cm for grating pattern spacing of about 8 microns.
Holding it's smartphone flashlight at arm distance, one symptomatic patients pictured what is perception was:
Simulation of rainbow glare
Transparent plastic calibration disc can be used to receive the pattern of a 9 mm diameter flap cut. We used the Wavelight FS200 femtosecond laser, and has 8 × 8 micron line/spot separation (the energy of the spots were slightly increased to take into account the rigidity of the plastic material).
This transparent disc bearing the raster pattern can be placed against the objective of a smartphone camera. The incoming light captured by the smartphone camera is diffracted at the flat of the spot impacts within the plastic disc, which is interposed between the light source and the smartphone's objective.
This experience helps to visualize the dramatic effect of the light diffraction occurring in rainbow glare complicated LASIK cases.
One dimmer but less poly-chromatic lightings, rainbow glare can still be causing disturbing visual symptoms, such as the ghosting of bright traffic or pedestrian signs.
Can rainbow glare be treated?
In most cases, rainbow glares vanishes within weeks or months after the LASIK surgery. In very rare cases, it may persist and cause the patient to stop driving at night, or develop anxiety. It is important for the clinician to make a proper diagnosis. I have put a patient who was sent 2 weeks in a psychiatric hospital, since it's verbal depiction of his symptoms led the unaware ophthalmologists (and later his shrine) to conclude that he was suffering from spectacular visual hallucinations.
We had reported the presence of a visible raster pattern at the interface after femto-assisted LASIK flap creation, using confocal microscopy (hyper-reflective spots have also been observed after femtoLASIK in asymptomatic eyes).
These features are attributed to tissular response of the femtosecond laser impacts at the posterior side of the flap, and in each of the cases we could document, hyperreflective spots were visible using confocal microscopy at the interface level.
Erasing the evenly spaced singularities created by the impacts of the spots at the back surface of the flap seemed to be a logical and reasonable option to alleviate the patients with persisting symptoms business and their. Unfersurface ablation was described as year technical adjunct for LASIK enhancement in the case of too thin residual stromal bed and breakfast experience with this technical in a reasonable amount of cases.
This validity of this hypothesis has been demonstrated by us since we have reported the first case of successful rainbow glare surgical correction using undersurface ablation of the flap for LASIK retreatment of low residual astigmatism. Since then, we have successfully treated two other cases of persisting and severe rainbow glare.
In the first performed case, confocal microscopy of the right and left corneas were obtained using the HRT II confocal microscope. We the right cornea, multiple rows of hyper-reflective spots appeared at about 125 microns below the anterior corneal surface. The horizontal and vertical distances between these areas matched the distance between spots and lines program the FS200 laser (8μm).
At 6 months postoperatively, it was decided to attempt to correct the persistent residual astigmatism and rainbow glare symptoms by performing undersurface ablation of the LASIK flap.
A gentian violet pen was used to mark the center of the pupil on the cornea flap facelift, and turning it back before. The patient was asked to look downward and the excimer laser delivered the astigmatism correction on the stromal portion of the flap.
Immediately after the procedure, a white flash light was shone at 50 cm from the patient's right eye. The rainbow glare pattern is no longer perceptible. At day one and day 30 controls, information visual acuity was 20/20 with the right eye, and the rainbow glare pattern perception did not reoccur.
Rainbow glare is a post-LASIK optical side effect primarily caused by the diffraction of light. It is caused by the grating pattern created on the back surface of the LASIK flap after femtosecond laser exposure The diffracted light is composed of the sum of interfering wave components, and the intensity of the pattern created on the retina is the result of the combined effects of interference and diffraction. The risks factors for rainbow glare are not well understood.
Simultaneous correction of residual myopic astigmatism and rainbow glare proves that the grating pattern on the back surface of the LASIK flap causes rainbow glare. Our therapeutic success suggests that undersurface photoablation of the LASIK flap may be year effective method to reduce the symptoms related to rainbow glare. In eyes presenting with persistent and visually impairing rainbow glare symptoms, the deliverance of a planar ablation (e.g. phototherapeutic keratectomy) we the stromal side of the LASIK flap is also be a valid option which we used in a further successful retreatment case.
- Krueger RR, Thornton he, Xu M, Bor Z, van den Berg TJ. Rainbow glare you year optical side effect of IntraLASIK. Ophthalmology. 2008; 115 (7): 1187-1195
- Bamba S, Rocha KM, Ramos-Esteban JC, Krueger RR. Impact of rainbow glare after laser in-situ keratomileusis flap creation with a 60 kHz femtosecond laser. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2009; 35 (6): 1082-6
- Gatinel D, Saad A, Guilbert E, Angolan H. Unilateral rainbow glare after uncomplicated femto-LASIK using the FS-200 femtosecond laser. J Refract Surg. 2013; 29 (7): 498-501.
- Maldonado MJ. Undersurface ablation of the flap for laser in-situ keratomileusis retreatment. Ophthalmology. 2002; 109 (8): 1453-64.
- [Fernandez-Vigo J, Macarro has, Fernández Sabugal J. Undersurface ablation of the corneal flap for LASIK enhancement]. Arch Soc Esp Oftalmol. 2007; 82 (11): 697-703
- Taneri, Azar DT. Ablation on the undersurface of a LASIK flap. Instrument and method for continuous eye-tracking. Ophthalmologe. 2007; 104 (2): 132-6