Corneal metabolism is reduced after cataract extraction.
Patients and methods: In a prospective study the corneal thickness and endothelial cell count of 48 patients were examined after phacoemulsification. Corneal thickness was measured with an ultrasound pachymeter and the endothelial cell count with a contact endothelial camera at the 12 o'clock position and in the corneal center before and 4 weeks, 4 months and 1 year after operation.
Results: One year after the operation, corneal thickness increased about 9% in the 12 o'clock position and about 12% in the corneal center. The endothelial cell count decreased about 27% in the 12 o'clock position and about 18% in the corneal center. We measured a significant correlation between cell loss and age at both points. Concerning the corneal thickness, no significant correlation was found.
Conclusion: After cataract extraction corneal metabolism is reduced. The endothelial cell count or corneal thickness can be used as an indicator of the corneal trauma resulting from the operation.