Corneal Epithelial Thickness Reduced in Children With Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis

Anterior segment optical coherence tomography epithelial mapping can aid in the evaluation of corneal epithelial thickness in the children with vernal keratoconjunctivitis.

The corneal epithelium is significantly thinner in the eyes of children with vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) compared with the eyes of healthy participants, according to research published in International Ophthalmology.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional, case-control, observational study to evaluate corneal epithelial thickness in the eyes of children with VKC compared with those of healthy participants. They used anterior segment optical coherence tomography epithelial mapping (central 5 mm) to evaluate corneal epithelial thickness-related parameters.

A total of 142 eyes, 71 eyes of 71 patients in the VKC group (64.8% boys and 35.2% girls; mean age, 8.15±2.41 years) and 71 eyes in the age-matched control group (56.3% boys and 43.7% girls; mean age, 7.99±1.31 years), were included in the study. 

Corneal epithelial thickness mapping may be considered to assess the integrity of the ocular surface in eyes with VKC and to detect corneal epithelial changes.

The researchers found the eyes of the VKC group had a thinner superior corneal epithelium  compared with those of the control group (mean, 51.07±4.11 vs 52.54 ± 2.01 μm; P =.008), reduced minimum epithelial thickness (45.99±6.52 vs 50.11±1.91 μm; P <.001), and more negative minimum-minus-maximum value, indicative of focal epithelial thinning (-11.77±9.38 vs -5.80±1.88;  P =.001). 

“Corneal epithelial thickness mapping may be considered to assess the integrity of the ocular surface in eyes with VKC and to detect corneal epithelial changes,” stated the researchers. “Disease phenotype [and duration] may influence the corneal epithelial changes.”

Limitations of the study included the cross-sectional study design, small sample size, and short follow-up duration.

This article originally appeared on Ophthalmology Advisor

References:

Albadawi MA, Nassar GA, El Gendy HA, Ghalwash DA. Evaluation of corneal epithelial thickness mapping using anterior segment OCT in children with vernal keratoconjunctivitis. Int Ophthalmol. Published online December 3, 2022. doi:10.1007/s10792-022-02596-9