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J Refract Surg. 2012 Nov;28(11):769-76. doi: 10.3928/1081597X-20121016-01.

Corneal confocal microscopy following conventional, transepithelial, and accelerated corneal collagen cross-linking procedures for keratoconus.

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  • 1French National Reference Center for Keratoconus, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Bordeaux, Service d'Ophtalmologie, Site Pellegrin, Centre Fran├žois Xavier Michelet, Bordeaux Cedex, France.



To compare early corneal healing following conventional, transepithelial, and accelerated corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) protocols.


Twenty-four patients with progressive keratoconus were divided into three groups to receive conventional, transepithelial, or accelerated CXL. In vivo corneal confocal microscopy was performed on each patient preoperatively and at 1, 3, and 6 months postoperatively.


Closure of the epithelial wound was complete 3 days following conventional and accelerated CXL. The subbasal nerve plexus was essentially obliterated immediately following conventional and accelerated CXL, and virtually no nerve fibers had regenerated by 6 months. The anterior stroma showed significant changes 1 month following conventional CXL; these changes were similar but more pronounced following accelerated CXL. Observed stromal changes included complete obliteration of keratocytes, increased tissue reflectivity, a honeycomb-like appearance, and circular lacunae. Some recovery of keratocyte density was noted after 6 months. These changes were less pronounced in the mid-stroma, and there were no apparent changes to the posterior stroma or endothelium. The cornea appeared to be unaltered following transepithelial CXL.


In vivo corneal confocal microscopy analysis of the postoperative impact of CXL on the cornea revealed clear differences among conventional, accelerated, and transepithelial CXL protocols. Accelerated CXL had a greater impact than conventional CXL on the anterior cornea, whereas transepithelial CXL did not appear to alter corneal morphology.

Copyright 2012, SLACK Incorporated.

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