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Bilateral morphometric analysis of corneal sub-basal nerve plexus in patients undergoing unilateral cataract surgery: a preliminary in vivo confocal microscopy study


Aims To evaluate bilateral morphometric changes of corneal sub-basal nerve plexus (CSNP) occurring after unilateral cataract surgery by in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) images analysed with automated software.

Methods IVCM was performed before (V0) and 1 month after surgery (V1) in both operated eyes (OEs) and unoperated eyes (UEs) of 30 patients. Thirty age and sex-matched subjects acted as controls. Corneal nerve fibre density (CNFD), corneal nerve branch density (CNBD), corneal nerve fibre length (CNFL), corneal nerve total branch density (CTBD), corneal nerve fibre area (CNFA), corneal nerve fibre width, corneal nerve fractal dimension (CNFrD) and dendritic cells density were calculated.

Results Mean CNFD, CNBD, CNFL, CTBD, CNFA and CNFrD significantly decreased at V1 versus V0 in both eyes (respectively, 15.35±7.00 vs 21.21±6.56 n/mm2 in OEs and 20.11±6.69 vs 23.20±7.26 in UEs; 13.57±12.16 vs 26.79±16.91 n/mm2 in OEs and 24.28±14.88 vs 29.76±15.25 in UEs; 9.67±3.44 mm/mm2 vs 13.49±3.42 in OEs and 12.53±3.60 vs 14.02±3.82 in UEs; 22.81±18.77 vs 42.25±24.64 n/mm2 in OEs and 38.06±20.52 vs 43.93±22.27 in UEs; 0.0040±0.0021 vs 0.0058±0.0020 mm2/mm2 in OEs and 0.0049±0.0016 vs 0.0057±0.0019 in UEs; 1.418±0.058 vs 1.470±0.037 in OEs and 1.466±0.040 vs 1.477±0.036 in UEs; always p<0.049).

Conclusion Patients undergoing cataract surgery exhibit bilateral alterations of CSNP. This finding could have broad implications in the setting of sequential cataract surgery.

  • cornea
  • imaging
  • diagnostic tests/investigation

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