Purpose: To compare the visual outcome of femtosecond laser-assisted anterior keratoplasty (FSALK) and microkeratome-assisted anterior lamellar keratoplasty (MALK) in anterior corneal dystrophy.  

Methods: retrospective comparative chart review of 7 eyes that underwent FSALK and 7 eyes that underwent MALK. The primary outcome was the visual outcome of both procedures. The secondary outcome was the recurrence of the corneal dystrophies.

Results: Mean follow-up time was 30±14(7-51) months for the FSALK group and 127±28(80-127) months for the MALK group. In the FSALK group the preoperative best spectacle-corrected visual acuity (BSCVA) improved from 20/63 to 20/25 at 36 months. In the MALK group there was 1 eye with documented BSCVA over 36 months follow-up; it improved from 20/160 preoperatively to 20/32 at 36 months. Uncorrected visual acuity (UCVA) at 36 months improved from 20/100 preoperatively to 20/63 in the FSALK group and from 20/200 preoperatively to 20/63 in the MALK group. Five eyes with Reis-Bucklers showed a clinical recurrence at a mean of 142±13(125-152) months. Two eyes with granular dystrophy showed a clinical recurrence at 23 and 80 months of follow-up. One eye in the MALK group had epithelial ingrowth. One eye in the FSALK group with compromised ocular surface due to 2 previous penetrating keratoplasty, suffered bacterial keratitis that ended up with corneal scarring.

 Conclusion: Both procedures improve visual outcome for anterior corneal dystrophy. FSALK has theoretical advantages over MALK; however, larger prospective studies are needed to prove this.