We compared the morphometric features of corneal epithelial basal cells between patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and healthy controls, and analyzed the relationship of these features with corneal nerve fiber pathology and clinical factors in the patients.Materials and Methods:
Corneal epithelial basal cells and corneal nerve fibers were visualized by corneal confocal microscopy in 75 patients with type 2 diabetes and 42 age-matched controls. Density, area and area variability of corneal epithelial basal cells, as well as the width of the intercellular space between neighboring cells, were evaluated for both groups.Results:
Patients showed decreased density (P < 0.02) and area (P < 0.0001), larger area variability (P < 0.0001) and a wider intercellular space (P < 0.0001) compared with controls. Density correlated inversely with area (P < 0.0001), width of intercellular space (P < 0.03) and beading frequency (P < 0.03), whereas it correlated directly with prothrombin time (P < 0.002) and activated partial thromboplastin time (P < 0.03). Area correlated inversely with duration of diabetes (P < 0.05) and coefficient of variation of area (P < 0.01), whereas it correlated directly with beading frequency (P < 0.05). Area variability correlated inversely with area (P < 0.01) and prothrombin time (P < 0.01), whereas it correlated directly with fibrinogen level (P < 0.0001).Conclusions:
Type 2 diabetes induces morphometric changes in corneal epithelial basal cells; this seems to be related to the morbid period of diabetes, beading frequency of corneal nerve fibers and blood coagulation state.