Diurnal Variation of Corneal Sensitivity and Thickness

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Purpose.To measure the diurnal variation of central corneal sensitivity and thickness over 24 hours.Methods.A noncontact pneumatic esthesiometer to measure central corneal sensitivity and an optical pachymeter to measure central corneal thickness were used on 20 noncontact lens wearers. These measurements were performed at 22:00 before 8 hours of sleep and on the following day on eye opening and at hourly intervals between 7:00 and 22:00.Results.Central corneal sensitivity varied by 35% over the 24 hours. Sensitivity was significantly lower by 17.1 ± 2.1% on eye opening and recovered to the level of the previous night after 4 hours. Corneal sensitivity continued to increase throughout the day but was not significantly higher. Central corneal thickness varied by 3.9% over the 24 hours. The mean overnight corneal swelling was 2.9 ± 0.31%, and 2 hours after eye opening, the cornea had deswelled to the same thickness as the previous night. The cornea thinned further throughout the day, but there were no statistically significant differences between the values after 14:00. There was a high correlation between corneal sensitivity and thickness over time (r = 0.8;p < 0.05).Discussion.Corneal sensitivity correlated with corneal thickness: both were higher on awakening and then decreased and remained below the levels measured the previous night. This may be due to physiological and/or environmental factors. The lack of significant differences between the values after 14:00 suggests that baseline may be measured at any time from 7 hours after eye opening.

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