In vivo confocal microscopy and tear cytokine analysis in post-LASIK ectasia

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Abstract

Aim

Corneal keratectasia is one of the complications associated with laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) that results in vision impairment. The pathogenesis of post-LASIK ectasia (PLE) remains underexplored. We report the tear cytokine profile and in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) findings in eyes with PLE.

Methods

This retrospective study included age-matched 7 (14 eyes) post-LASIK controls (PLCs) and 6 (12 eyes) PLE subjects. Corneal topography was used to categorise the subjects into PLC and PLE groups. Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) scores obtained were based on standard questionnaire and IVCM images were used to determine corneal dendritic cells density (DCD) and sub-basal nerve plexus morphology. Inflammatory cytokines/chemokines in the tears were quantified using flow cytometry based cytometric bead array.

Results

Pentacam-based scores, OSDI scores and corneal DCD were significantly (p<0.05) higher in patients with PLE compared with PLC. Discomfort-related subscale of OSDI score exhibited a positive correlation with total corneal DCD in the PLE cohort. The fold difference of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand/monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (CCL2/MCP1) (3.4±0.6) was found to be significantly (p<0.05) higher in the PLE cohorts and a positive correlation between CCL2/MCP1 levels and total corneal DCD was also observed in the PLE cohort.

Conclusion

The current study found a significant difference in the tear film cytokine profile between normal and PLE eyes. Presence of increased corneal dendritic cells and altered tear cytokines suggests an ongoing inflammatory response in PLE.

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