In vivo confocal microscopy evaluation of meibomian gland dysfunction in atopic-keratoconjunctivitis patients

Ophthalmology. 2012 Oct;119(10):1961-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.04.001. Epub 2012 Jun 18.


Purpose: To clarify meibomian gland (MG) alterations in atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) patients and compare the findings with obstructive MG dysfunction (MGD) patients and control subjects using in vivo confocal microscopy (CM).

Design: Prospective, controlled, single-center study.

Participants: Twelve AKC patients (10 males, 2 females; mean age, 31.0±16.5 years), 12 obstructive MGD patients (7 males, 5 females; mean age, 37.6±5.6 years), and 26 control subjects (13 males, 13 females; mean age, 32.9±5.7 years) were recruited. No significant age or gender differences were observed between the 3 groups.

Methods: All subjects underwent assessment of tear evaporation rate from the ocular surface (TEROS), slit-lamp examinations, tear break-up time (BUT) measurements, vital staining, Schirmer test I, meibography, MG expressibility, and CM examination of the MG (HRTII-RCM). Statistical analysis was performed using the Mann-Whitney test.

Main outcome measures: The MG acinar unit density, inflammatory cell density, MG acinar unit longest diameter, MG acinar unit shortest diameter, and MG acinar unit area as observed by in vivo CM, MG drop-out, MG expressibility grading, tear stability, tear evaporation, and vital staining scores.

Results: The TEROS values, mean BUT, vital staining scores, MG expressibility, and MG dropout grades were significantly worse in AKC patients compared with those in obstructive MGD patients and controls (P<0.05). The mean values of the CM parameters in AKC patients were significantly worse than those observed in the obstructive MGD patients and controls (P<0.001).

Conclusions: Changes in MG in AKC patients seem to be more severe than in patients with obstructive MGD and controls. In vivo CM is a noninvasive, efficient tool in the assessment of MG status and ocular surface disease in AKC.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acinar Cells / pathology
  • Adult
  • Cell Count
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / diagnosis*
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / physiopathology
  • Eyelid Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Eyelid Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Goblet Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meibomian Glands / diagnostic imaging
  • Meibomian Glands / pathology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Tears / physiology