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Dipika V. Patel, Charles N. J. McGhee; Mapping of the Normal Human Corneal Sub-Basal Nerve Plexus by In Vivo Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2005;46(12):4485-4488. doi: 10.1167/iovs.05-0794.
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purpose. To produce a two-dimensional reconstruction map of the living human sub-basal corneal nerve plexus using in vivo confocal microscopy.
methods. Laser scanning in vivo confocal microscopy was performed on three normal eyes of three healthy human subjects. Subjects were asked to fixate on targets arranged in a grid to enable examination of the cornea in a wide range of positions. Using the section mode, a mean of 573 ± 176 images of the sub-basal plexus were obtained for each subject. The data were arranged and images were mapped for each subject into confluent montages.
results. Mean dimensions of the corneal areas mapped were 4.95 ± 0.53 mm horizontally and 5.14 ± 0.53 mm vertically. In all subjects, the sub-basal nerve plexus appeared to radiate toward a whorl-like complex centered 1 to 2 mm inferior to the corneal apex. Outside this area, the nerve fiber bundles in the remainder of the cornea were arranged in a radiating pattern. Mean nerve density was significantly higher in the inferocentral whorl region (25,249 ± 616 μm/mm2) compared with the central cornea (21,668 ± 1411 μm/mm2) (Mann-Whitney U test; P = 0.05).
conclusions. This is the first study to elucidate the overall distribution of sub-basal nerves in the healthy, live central to mid-peripheral human cornea by laser scanning in vivo confocal microscopy. The whorl pattern of the sub-basal nerves is similar to that seen in the epithelium in corneal verticillata and may lend support to the theory that epithelial cells and nerves migrate centripetally in tandem.
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