Impact of contact lens wear on epithelial alterations in keratoconus

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to characterize the central epithelial thickness (CET) of penetrating keratoplasty corneal specimens obtained from patients with keratoconus (KC) and correlate the histological patterns with their clinical history.
Methods: Ex vivo histological imaging was performed to measure CET and total corneal thickness (TCT) in 56 patients with KC. Microscopic slides from penetrating keratoplasty corneal specimens, stained with hematoxylin and eosin were evaluated using bright field microscopy.
CET and TCT were measured, and morphological features were studied. Clinical history regarding duration of KC prior to surgery and length of and tolerance to contact lens wear were compared and analyzed.
Results: The microscopic slides of all patients available for follow up (n = 48) were analyzed and CET and TCT were measured. The histological evaluation revealed 3 distinctive epithelial patterns. Pattern 1 with central hypertrophic and hydropic changes (n = 19) measured 70.89 ± 25.88 m in CET and 308.63 ± 100.74 m in TCT; Pattern 2 (n = 14) had not changed,
similar to normal epithelium CET and TCT measuring 36.5 ± 7.02 m and 260.14 ± 87.93 m respectively. Pattern 3 (n = 15) demonstrated thinner central epithelium characterized by atrophy and focal hydropic changes measuring 19.93 ± 4.60 m and 268.00 ± 79.39 m in CET and TCT respectively (all p < 0.0001). The presence of Pattern 2 characterized by similar to normal CET was correlated with the duration of the condition (R = 0.600, p = 0.030). There was a significant difference in the length of CL wear comparing those with patterns 1 and 2 versus 3 (least no. of CL years) (p = 0.05 and p = 0.33 respectivelly).


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