Assessing corneal nerve structure and function in diabetic neuropathy

Clin Exp Optom. 2012 May;95(3):338-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1444-0938.2012.00743.x.


The accurate detection and quantification of human diabetic peripheral neuropathy are important to define at-risk patients, anticipate deterioration and assess new therapies. Two emerging ophthalmic techniques, namely, corneal confocal microscopy and corneal aesthesiometry, demonstrate the ability to diagnose, quantify severity and assess therapeutic benefit in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Corneal confocal microscopy allows quantification of corneal nerve morphology and non-contact corneal aesthesiometry assesses corneal sensitivity. The present review provides a detailed critique of the rationale, practical application in terms of the instruments used to capture images and the basis on which images are interpreted and analysed. We also critically evaluate how these two new non-invasive ophthalmic tests can be deployed to diagnose diabetic and other peripheral neuropathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cornea / innervation*
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Nerves / pathology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology