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Confocal microscopy of corneal nerve plexus as an early marker of eye involvement in patients with type 2 diabetes

Poster Details

First Author: F.Cifariello ITALY

Co Author(s):    R. Dell'Omo   C. Costagliola                 

Abstract Details


To measure the thickness and length of corneal nerves and the peri-papillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness in patients recently diagnosed with diabetes mellitus (DM).


Department of Medicine and Health Science, University of Molise, Campobasso, Italy Casa di Cura «Villa Maria», Campobasso, Italy


Twenty-two eyes of 22 patients recently diagnosed with type 2 DM and 22 eyes of 22 healthy individuals were consecutively enrolled. Central corneal sensitivity was measured using a Cochet-Bonnet esthesiometer, corneal nerve length (CNL) and thickness (CNT) were evaluated through in vivo confocal microscopy. The confocal images were examined using a software that could semi-automatically trace the corneal nerve pathway. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) was performed to quantify the overall and sectorial RNFL thickness.


Mean DM duration was 3.5 ± 1.7 months, whereas the mean glycemia and HbA1c levels were 180.5 ± 73.13 and 8.6 ± 1.7 % (65.2 ± 19.7 mmol/mol) mg/dl, respectively. Corneal sensation threshold was significantly lower in the DM group compared to control group (p=0.003). CNL and CNT were reduced in the DM group (p=0.043 and p=0.004, respectively). Significant correlations were found between CNT and HbA1c levels (p=0.04; r=-0.47), and between CNT and the corneal sensation threshold (p=0.04; r=0.69). RNFL thickness was significantly reduced in the temporal quadrants, but no correlation was found with CNT and CNL changes (p>0.05).


CNL and CNT changes are evident even in the early stages of DM, and RNFL reduction was recorded in the temporal quadrants. These findings indicate that, in the eye with diabetes, neuropathy may represent an early marker of the disease.

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