Purpose: The purpose of this study is to analyze in vivo confocal microscopic findings of corneas with Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy.
Methods: Central corneas of 17 eyes of 11 patients aged 41-86 years were examined using in vivo scanning slit confocal microscopy after being diagnosed with Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy. The cellular structure of the corneas was analyzed morphologically and quantitatively and compared to control results from 22 healthy corneas.
Results: Bullae were detected in the basal epithelial layer of one eye. Eight of 17 eyes (47%) exhibited an abnormal Bowman's layer: diffuse bright reflection and absence of nerves. Eleven eyes (65%) exhibited abnormal anterior stroma: lacunae and diffuse increased light reflection due to edema. In 12 eyes (71%), lacunae or dark bands 5-20 microm wide against increased background reflection were noted in the posterior stroma. Descemet's membrane was thickened in all eyes. Dark bands were detected in six eyes (35%). Guttae (137-1,231/mm2) 20-40 microm in diameter were found in every endothelial cell layer. The mean endothelial cell count was 1,202 +/- 850 (cells/mm2 +/- SD; range, 0-2,735). There was a positive correlation between endothelial cell counts obtained by specular microscopy and those obtained by confocal microscopy (r = 0.95).
Conclusion: In vivo confocal microscopic findings of Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy are described for the first time in a series of cases. Pathological changes in Fuchs' dystrophy were detected in all corneal layers, more frequently in the posterior layers. Endothelial cell counts obtained with confocal microscopy were statistically similar to those obtained with standard specular microscopy.