Cystinosis is a rare autosomal recessive metabolic disorder in which non-protein cystine accumulates within cellular lysosomes owing to a defect in lysosomal cystine transport. The pathognomonic ocular manifestation of cystinosis is the deposition of distinctive iridescent crystals in the cornea, not associated with any inflammatory response or recognised change in corneal function. We measured corneal thickness in nine patients with infantile nephropathic cystinosis. We also studied a corneal button from one of these patients who underwent corneal transplantation. All nine patients had increased corneal thickness in comparison with an age matched control population. Electron microscopy analysis of the cystinotic button revealed structural changes of both epithelium and endothelium layers. Increased corneal thickness in patients with nephropathic cystinosis may reflect subclinical corneal oedema.
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