Objective: To determine the effect of various long-term topical antiglaucoma regimens on the cell population profile of the conjunctiva.
Methods: Conjunctival biopsy specimens from 124 patients undergoing filtration surgery were assessed quantitatively by light microscopy. Preoperatively, the patients had used a drug for only a brief period (group A; n = 28), a beta-blocker alone (group B; n = 31), a beta-blocker in combination with a miotic (group C; n = 33), or a combination of beta-blocker, miotic, and sympathomimetic (group D; n = 32).
Results: The conjunctiva in groups A and B was similar. Group C conjunctiva differed, but the changes were most marked in biopsy specimens from patients in group D, where there was a significant decrease in goblet cells (P < .05); increase in pale cells, macrophages, and lymphocytes within the epithelium (P < .001); and increase in fibroblasts (P < .001), macrophages (P < .001), mast cells (P < .05), and lymphocytes (P = .01) in the substantia propria. In addition, the effect of duration of therapy was assessed. Administration of topical medication for more than 3 years was found to increase the numbers of pale cells within the epithelium (P < .05); fibroblasts (P < .05), macrophages (P < .001), lymphocytes (P < .01), and mast cells (P = .001) within the superficial substantia propria; and the numbers of fibroblasts (P = .01) and macrophages (P < .05) within the deep substantia propria.
Conclusions: The compared treatment regimens affected the conjunctiva to different degrees, with multiple-drug topical therapy exerting the greatest effect on the degree of subclinical inflammation within the conjunctiva. The results also indicated that administration of topical medication, irrespective of type, for 3 years or more induced a significant degree of subclinical inflammation.