Objective: To evaluate the therapeutic effects of anterior stromal punctures (ASP) in patients with bullous keratopathy (BK).
Patients and methods: Twenty-seven patients awaiting penetrating keratoplasty with a diagnosis of BK were examined. They were seen before treatment with ASP and 1, 4, and 12 weeks after treatment. The examination included slit-lamp examination, photography of the cornea, ultrasonic pachymetry, central esthesiometry, and pneumotonometry. Subjective evaluations of pain, discomfort, and photophobia were also done using a visual scale model. Photographs were analyzed by computer-assisted planimetry and used to measure the corneal surface covered by bullae and microcysts. Pretreatment and posttreatment values (mean +/- SEM) were compared using the Student paired t test.
Results: At 3 months, a significant reduction in pain was noted. A decrease in the mean corneal surface covered by bullae (BKPreASP = 2733 +/- 553 microns2; BK3mo = 1006 +/- 356 microns2, P = .004) was observed. A decrease in the esthesiometry (E) measurement (EPreASP = 3.5 +/- 0.4 cm; E3mo = 1.3 +/- 0.3 cm, P < .001), an increase in corneal thickness ([CT] CTPreASP = 869 +/- 24 microns; CT3mo = 902 +/- 21 microns, P < .001), and a decrease in the number of quadrants through which iris (I) details could be seen (IPreASP = 1.7 +/- 0.3; I3mo = 1.2 +/- 0.3, P = .015) were also noted. These findings corroborate the clinical observation of increased subepithelial fibrosis following ASP.
Conclusions: Anterior stromal punctures reduce bullae formation and alleviate pain in patients with BK, and they constitute a valuable alternative to penetrating keratoplasty should surgery be delayed or contraindicated.