Peripheral Endothelial Cell Count Is a Predictor of Disease Severity in Advanced Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy

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Abstract

Purpose:

In advanced Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD), central endothelial changes do not correlate with disease severity. The peripheral endothelial cell count (ECC) has not been studied as a marker of FECD severity. The goal of this study was to determine the relationship between the peripheral ECC and known clinical markers of FECD in advanced cases.

Methods:

Patients with FECD examined between January 1, 2013, and September 1, 2016, by 1 cornea specialist were identified. Medical records from all previous visits were reviewed to include eyes with high-quality central and peripheral in vivo confocal microscopy images performed on the same day as a clinical evaluation. Endothelial photographs were used to perform manual cell counts centrally and peripherally. Clinical grading of FECD from 1 to 4 was performed at the slit-lamp.

Results:

We identified 154 eyes of 126 patients that met criteria for inclusion. With higher disease grades, central ECC and peripheral ECC decreased, visual acuity worsened, and central corneal thickness (CCT) increased (all P < 0.05). In patients with advanced disease (defined as either grade 3 or 4, CCT >700, or central ECC <350), the peripheral ECC was the best predictor of disease severity and had the highest number of statistically significant correlations with other clinical markers compared with competing variables.

Conclusions:

In advanced FECD, severity is best determined by the peripheral ECC compared with the central ECC, visual acuity, clinical disease grade, and CCT. The peripheral ECC should be added to the clinical parameters used to evaluate FECD severity.

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