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Alcohol delamination in the treatment of recurrent corneal erosion: an electron microscopic study
  1. Rita Mencucci1,
  2. Iacopo Paladini1,
  3. Brunilda Brahimi1,
  4. Ugo Menchini1,
  5. Harminder S Dua2,
  6. Paolo Romagnoli3
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of Florence, Italy
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Queen's Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3Department of Anatomy, Histology and Forensic Medicine, University of Florence, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rita Mencucci, Department of Oto-Neuro-Ophthalmological Surgical Sciences – Eye Clinic, Viale GB Morgagni 85, 50134 Florence, Italy; rita.mencucci{at}


Aim To investigate by electron microscopy the plane of separation of the epithelial sheet from its substratum in the procedure of alcohol delamination (ALD) in patients with recurrent corneal erosion syndrome.

Methods Ten cases of recurrent corneal erosions (RCE) secondary to trauma and seven cases related to map–dot–fingerprint dystrophy (MDFP) were treated with ALD. The epithelial sheets obtained from these patients were examined by transmission electron microscopy. Similarly sheets obtained from 20 patients undergoing photorefractive keratectomy (10 by mechanical removal and 10 by ALD) were also examined as control group. Five further corneal buttons obtained at keratoplasty were treated with ALD and the epithelial sheet and corresponding stroma were both examined.

Results In all specimens, whether removed mechanically or by ALD, the intercellular surfaces did not show any disruption and desmosomes were preserved. In patients with traumatic RCE and in corneal buttons obtained at keratoplasty, tissue separation occurred along the lamina lucida, whereas in patients with MDFP the whole basal lamina was removed along with the epithelium. Focal areas of basal cell degeneration and epithelial detachment from the basal lamina were also noted.

Conclusions ALD enables efficient removal of the epithelium with an almost complete preservation of the lamina densa in traumatic RCE. In RCE due to MDFP the epithelium separates from the stroma below the basal lamina and may reflect the pathology of the condition.

  • Recurrent corneal erosion
  • alcohol delamination
  • electron microscopy
  • corneal epithelium
  • ocular surface
  • cornea
  • anatomy
  • treatment surgery

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Florence. Tissue procurement and use was carried out in accordance with the declaration of Helsinki and local ethics regulations.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.