Correction of myopia with the ArF-excimer laser (PRK) sometimes leads to a so called 'central island' formation on the anterior corneal surface. The attenuation of the laser beam by the ablation plume might be one reason for this phenomenon. The attenuation properties of the ablation plume were investigated by a probe beam parallel to the surface of the tissue probe. By varying the laser parameters (fluence, repetition rate, spot size) and the target tissue (cornea, PMMA) the attenuation of the probe beam was measured time and spatial resolved. As a result of this study, a significant influence of the removal process due to scattering and absorption within the ablation plume can be assumed as a function of repetition rate, spot size and air flow on the tissue surface.© (1996) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.