Corneal endothelium in xeroderma pigmentosum: clinical specular microscopy study

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Xeroderma pigmentosum is a condition caused due to a defective DNA repair mechanism when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Many of the patients with this disorder develop severely oedematous cornea with varying degrees of anterior corneal haze, which necessitates a full-thickness keratoplasty or selective endothelial keratoplasty. Presence of corneal oedema suggests that these patients have a dysfunctional endothelium. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the corneal endothelium in the patients with xeroderma pigmentosum when clinical specular microscopy was feasible.


Thirteen patients with classic skin changes of xeroderma pigmentosum were included in the study conducted during January 2010–December 2012. An age-matched group of 13 volunteers were included as controls who were emmetropes without any history of ocular or systemic illness. Corneal endothelium was assessed using specular microscopy from the central clear area of cornea.


The mean age of the patients with xeroderma pigmentosum was 16.6±7.2 years and that of the controls was 17.4±6.9 years (p=0.78). The number of analysed cells and endothelial cell density were significantly higher in controls (p<0.001), whereas the average cell area, coefficient of variation of cell area and maximum cell area were significantly higher in xeroderma pigmentosum (p≤0.007).


The specular microscopic findings in patients with xeroderma pigmentosum are suggestive of an accelerated endothelial cell loss. It is pertinent that the treating physicians must be involved in emphasising proper ocular protection from ultraviolet radiation to prevent avoidable blindness from xeroderma pigmentosum.

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