Alterations in corneal nerves in different subtypes of dry eye disease: An in vivo confocal microscopy study

Stephanie M. Cox, Ahmad Kheirkhah, Shruti Aggarwal, Farshad Abedi, Bernardo M. Cavalcanti, Andrea Cruzat, Pedram Hamrah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: To evaluate corneal subbasal nerve alterations in evaporative and aqueous-deficient dry eye disease (DED) as compared to controls. Methods: In this retrospective, cross-sectional, controlled study, eyes with a tear break-up time of less than 10 s were classified as DED. Those with an anesthetized Schirmer's strip of less than 5 mm were classified as aqueous-deficient DED. Three representative in vivo confocal microscopy images were graded for each subject for total, main, and branch nerve density and numbers. Results: Compared to 42 healthy subjects (42 eyes), the 70 patients with DED (139 eyes) showed lower total (18,579.0 ± 687.7 μm/mm2 vs. 21,014.7 ± 706.5, p = 0.026) and main (7,718.9 ± 273.9 vs. 9,561.4 ± 369.8, p < 0.001) nerve density, as well as lower total (15.5 ± 0.7/frame vs. 20.5 ± 1.3, p = 0.001), main (3.0 ± 0.1 vs. 3.8 ± 0.2, p = 0.001) and branch (12.5 ± 0.7 vs. 16.5 ± 1.2, p = 0.004) nerve numbers. Compared to the evaporative DED group, the aqueous-deficient DED group showed reduced total nerve density (19,969.9 ± 830.7 vs. 15,942.2 ± 1,135.7, p = 0.006), branch nerve density (11,964.9 ± 749.8 vs. 8,765.9 ± 798.5, p = 0.006), total nerves number (16.9 ± 0.8/frame vs. 13.0 ± 1.2, p = 0.002), and branch nerve number (13.8 ± 0.8 vs. 10.2 ± 1.1, p = 0.002). Conclusions: Patients with DED demonstrate compromised corneal subbasal nerves, which is more pronounced in aqueous-deficient DED. This suggests a role for neurosensory abnormalities in the pathophysiology of DED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalOcular Surface
Volume22
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Corneal nerves
  • Dry eye disease
  • In vivo confocal microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Alterations in corneal nerves in different subtypes of dry eye disease: An in vivo confocal microscopy study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this