Multimodal imaging of pre-Descemet corneal dystrophy

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2020 Sep;30(5):908-916. doi: 10.1177/1120672119862505. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess structural and histological changes associated with pre-Descemet corneal dystrophy with multimodal in vivo imaging.

Methods: Retrospective case series including eight corneas from four unrelated male patients with pre-Descemet corneal dystrophy characterized by the presence of punctiform gray opacities located just anterior to the Descemet membrane at slit-lamp examination of both eyes. In vivo confocal microscopy images were obtained in the central, paracentral, and peripheral corneal zones from the superficial epithelial cell layer down to the corneal endothelium in both eyes. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography scans (central and limbal zones) and mapping of both corneas were acquired.

Results: Diffuse small extracellular stromal deposits, presence of enlarged hyperreflective keratocytes in the posterior stroma with either hyperreflective or hyporeflective intracellular dots, and presence of activated keratocytes in the very anterior stroma were observed in all corneas with in vivo confocal microscopy. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography scans showed a hyperreflective line anterior to Descemet's membrane running from limbus to limbus and associated with a second thinner hyperreflective line just beneath Bowman's layer. Fine hyperreflective particles were observed in the posterior, mid, and anterior stroma on optical coherence tomography scans.

Conclusion: The clinical presentation and structural anomalies found in isolated sporadic pre-Descemet corneal dystrophy are in favor of a degenerative process affecting corneal keratocytes with no epithelial or endothelial involvement. The maximum damage is found just anterior to the Descemet membrane resulting in pre-Descemet membrane location of stromal opacities. Multimodal imaging of cornea reveals that the disorder affects the whole stroma and it permits better understanding of pre-Descemet corneal dystrophy pathophysiology together with ascertained diagnosis.

Keywords: In vivo confocal microscopy; pre-Descemet corneal dystrophy; spectral domain optical coherence tomography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Corneal Dystrophies, Hereditary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Corneal Dystrophies, Hereditary / pathology
  • Corneal Keratocytes / pathology
  • Descemet Membrane / diagnostic imaging*
  • Descemet Membrane / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Slit Lamp Microscopy
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence