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Eur J Ophthalmol. 2007 Mar-Apr;17(2):160-70.

Different conjunctival adaptive response in patients with aqueous-deficient and with mucous-deficient dry eyes.

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  • 1Ocular Surface Unit, Research Laboratory, Service of Ophthalmology, University Hospital Ramon y Cajal, Ctra. de Colmenar, km. 9, 28034 Madrid, Spain.



To describe the different cellular adaptive patterns found in the conjunctival epithelium from patients with aqueous-deficient and mucous-deficient dry eyes.


The authors studied different conjunctival areas, by impression cytology and by biopsy, 50 eyes with facial nerve paralysis (FNP), 50 eyes with ocular cicatricial pemphigoid (OCP), and 50 eyes from patients with primarily Sjögren syndrome (1SS).


Eyes with FNP from the first clinical grade showed a progressive alteration of the nonsecretory cells, with a significant decrease in density goblet cells, generally with a PAS-positive staining. Eyes with OCP, during clinical grades 1 and 2, showed a slow deterioration of the nonsecretory cells; but from clinical grade 3, there was a significant increase of the cellular size and the thickness of the conjunctiva. Goblet cells showed a significant decrease in density from clinical grade 1, generally with a PAS-negative staining. Eyes with 1SS during clinical grades 1 and 2 showed a progressive alteration of the nonsecretory cells, with a significant decrease in density goblet cells, and a PAS-positive staining. From clinical grade 3 appeared a significant increase of nonsecretory cellular size and thickness of conjunctiva, with a significant decrease in goblet cell counts, and a PAS-negative staining.


Patients with FNP (a primarily aqueous-deficient alteration) follow completely the squamous metaplasia process. Patients with OCP (a primarily mucous-deficient syndrome) have a hypertrophy and hyperplasia process along the ocular surface. Patients with 1SS (a primarily aqueous-deficient and mucin-deficient alteration) have a squamous metaplasia process, but from clinical grade 3 also appears a hypertrophy and hyperplasia process.

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