AIMS: To investigate the long term relation between corneal thickness, endothelial morphometric variables, and endothelial permeability in patients with endothelial cell counts under 900 cells/mm2 as a result of endothelial cell destruction after cataract surgery. METHODS: Eighteen patients developed the so called toxic endothelial cell destruction (TECD) syndrome following routine cataract surgery because of the intracameral injection of a toxic detergent residue. Ten patients with a mean (SEM) initial cell loss of 72% (2%) were followed for 4 years. Data were obtained at 6 months and 4 years postoperatively and compared between TECD eyes and contralateral control eyes. RESULTS: Mean (SEM) endothelial cell density of the TECD eyes increased from 642 (41) cells/mm2 to 849 (50) cells/mm2 at 4 years postoperatively (p = 0.005). There was no difference in coefficient of variation or percentage hexagonals between 6 months and 4 years postoperatively. Mean (SD) corneal thickness of the TECD eyes and control eyes was similar, 0.51 (0.02) mm and 0.49 (0.01) mm, respectively (p = 0.65). Mean (SD) endothelial permeability was also similar for TECD eyes and control eyes (4.3 (0.9) x 10(-4) cm/min and 4.4 (0.6) x 10(-4) cm/min, respectively (p = 0.57). There was no correlation between endothelial cell density, coefficient of variation, or percentage of hexagonal cells and endothelial permeability in the TECD eyes. In three patients a permanent corneal decompensation occurred. CONCLUSIONS: Four years after TECD corneal endothelial wound healing is stable and the barrier function has been restored.
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