Purpose: To determine whether metformin use and diabetes mellitus (DM) affect central corneal endothelial cell density (ECD) by examining an eye bank corneal donor database.
Methods: The Lions Eye Institute corneal donor database, which consists of 38,318 corneal samples, was examined. Associations of ECD with metformin use and DM were tested by mixed effects linear models that account for correlations of outcomes between eyes within subjects adjusting for age, intraocular lens status, and glaucoma. Subjects (N = 17,056) with observed ECD counts for both eyes are included for analysis.
Results: Average donor age was 56.3 (SD = 15.0). ECD was not associated with metformin use (mean ± SE = 2592 ± 11.9 (N = 1014) versus nonuse [2592 ± 3.0 (N = 16,042), P = 0.302]; further analysis showed that ECD was not significantly associated with metformin use in patients with diabetes. However, metformin use was significantly associated with lower ECD among patients with glaucoma: [2658 ± 50.7 (N = 27) for use versus 2789 ± 19.0 (N = 164) for nonuse, P = 0.018]. The presence of DM was significantly associated with lower ECD 2581 ± 5.6 (N = 4766) for DM versus 2595 ± 3.4 (N = 12,290) for non-DM, P = 0.031).
Conclusions: Lower ECD was associated with DM. Lower ECD was not associated with metformin use except in a subgroup of patients with glaucoma, in which subgroup analysis showed lower ECD. The differences in ECD observed were small and unlikely to affect the suitability for transplantation of donor corneas.