June 2023
Volume 64, Issue 8
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2023
Longitudinal evaluation of the subbasal nerve plexus at identical corneal regions by large-area confocal microscopy
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sebastian Bohn
    Department of Ophthalmology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany
    Department Life, Light & Matter, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
  • Nadine Stache
    Department of Ophthalmology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
  • Katharina Sterenczak
    Department of Ophthalmology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
  • Karsten Sperlich
    Department of Ophthalmology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany
    Department Life, Light & Matter, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
  • Stephan Allgeier
    Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Bernd Köhler
    Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Ralf Mikut
    Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Klaus-Martin Reichert
    Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Rudolf Guthoff
    Department of Ophthalmology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany
    Department Life, Light & Matter, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
  • Oliver Stachs
    Department of Ophthalmology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany
    Department Life, Light & Matter, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Sebastian Bohn None; Nadine Stache None; Katharina Sterenczak None; Karsten Sperlich None; Stephan Allgeier None; Bernd Köhler None; Ralf Mikut None; Klaus-Martin Reichert None; Rudolf Guthoff None; Oliver Stachs None
  • Footnotes
    Support  DFG 273371152
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2023, Vol.64, 4025. doi:
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      Sebastian Bohn, Nadine Stache, Katharina Sterenczak, Karsten Sperlich, Stephan Allgeier, Bernd Köhler, Ralf Mikut, Klaus-Martin Reichert, Rudolf Guthoff, Oliver Stachs; Longitudinal evaluation of the subbasal nerve plexus at identical corneal regions by large-area confocal microscopy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2023;64(8):4025.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Purpose : The dynamic nature of the corneal subbasal nerve plexus and the limited field of view of in vivo corneal confocal laser scanning microscopy prevent the re-examination of identical regions within the cornea in long-term studies. To solve this problem, a semiautomated method was developed utilizing static corneal landmarks in large-area mosaics. The feasibility and necessity of this method were demonstrated in a longitudinal study.

Methods : The central corneae of three healthy volunteers were examined weekly over six weeks by large-area in vivo confocal microscopy. An in-house developed prototype for guided eye movement was used to image and generate large-area mosaics of the subbasal nerve plexus. Pressure-induced tissue folds, so-called Kobayashi-structures, and nerve entry points were used as static landmarks to enable precise longitudinal mosaic control point registration. To demonstrate the subbasal nerve plexus dynamics, the migration rates of prominent nerve fiber branching points were tracked and quantified over time.

Results : With an image acquisition time of 40 s, mosaic images with a mean size of (3.56 ± 0.54) mm2 were generated. After control point registration, identical corneal regions were successfully identified over the entire period, enabling the tracking of individual branching points and quantifying their dynamics. For the three participants, a mean branching point migration rate of (48.7 ± 14.6) µm/week was found. It was also possible to record two sequential mosaics with and without tissue folds, each with an acquisition time of 40 s and a temporal gap of about half a minute in between, which may be necessary for readjustments. Due to the short examination time, in which the nerves do not change, these mosaic pairs can be registered solely based on the nerves. Consequently, also mosaics free of tissue folds can be registered longitudinally.

Conclusions : This proof-of-concept study has demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing static corneal landmarks in in vivo large-area confocal microscopic images of the subbasal nerve plexus to re-examine identical areas over a longitudinal period. This method opens a window to monitor dynamic subbasal nerve plexus changes in future studies on corneal nerve health and regenerative capacity in several systemic and ocular diseases, possibly providing an objective diagnostic tool for disease- or treatment-induced changes.

This abstract was presented at the 2023 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in New Orleans, LA, April 23-27, 2023.

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