Impact of Age on the Characteristics of Corneal Nerves and Corneal Epithelial Cells in Healthy Adults
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Cornea. 2023 Aug 29. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000003363. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37643477.

Impact of Age on the Characteristics of Corneal Nerves and Corneal Epithelial Cells in Healthy Adults

Authors: Jia Ying Chin 1Chang Liu 1Isabelle Xin Yu Lee 1Molly Tzu Yu Lin 1Ching-Yu Cheng 2 3 4Jipson Hon Fai Wong 1Cong Ling Teo 3Jodhbir S Mehta 1 2 5Yu-Chi Liu 1 2 5 6

Affiliation:

  • 1Tissue Engineering and Stem Cell Group, Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore.
  • 2Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Academic Clinical Program, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.
  • 3Epidemiology Group, Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore.
  • 4Department of Ophthalmology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore and National University Health System, Singapore, Singapore.
  • 5Department of Cornea and External Eye Disease, Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore; and.
  • 6Department of Ophthalmology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.

Abstract:

Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate age-related changes in corneal nerves and corneal epithelial cell parameters and to establish age-adjusted reference values.

Methods: A total of 7025 corneal nerve images and 4215 corneal epithelial images obtained using in vivo confocal microscopy from 281 eyes of 143 healthy participants were included. Seven corneal nerve parameters and 3 corneal epithelial cell parameters were quantified using 2 automatic analytic software and analyzed across 6 age groups ranging from 21 to 80 years.

Results: There was a declining trend in all 7 nerve parameters with advancing age. In particular, corneal nerve fiber length and corneal nerve fiber density demonstrated a significant decrease in subjects aged 65 years or older compared with subjects younger than 65 years (10.8 ± 2.6 mm/mm2 vs. 9.9 ± 2.0 mm/mm2, P = 0.011 in corneal nerve fiber length; 15.8 ± 5.2 fibers/mm2 vs. 14.4 ± 4.3 fibers/mm2, P = 0.046 in corneal nerve fiber density), whereas corneal nerve fractal dimension demonstrated a borderline significant decrease (P = 0.057). Similarly, there was a general declining trend in all epithelial cell parameters with advancing age. Corneal epithelial cell circularity was significantly lower in subjects aged 65 years and older as compared to subjects younger than 65 years (0.722 ± 0.021 μm2 vs. 0.714 ± 0.021 μm2; P = 0.011).

Conclusions: Advancing age results in reduced corneal nerve metrics and alteration of corneal cell morphology. Aging effects should be considered when evaluating patients with corneal neuropathy.

Download: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37643477/