Patients with limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) may have thinner central corneal and limbal epithelium thicknesses compared with healthy eyes, a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology reports.

The investigation also suggests anterior segment OCT (AS-OCT) done in three-point measurements could be a reliable parameter to diagnose LSCD if there is clinical suspicion of the condition.

Using AS-OCT, the investigators measured central and limbal epithelial thicknesses of 52 healthy eyes and 68 eyes with LSCD. The researchers obtained central corneal epithelium thickness readings from one-point and three-point measurements. Both values were compared with the central corneal epithelium thickness measurements from in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM).

The mean OCT three-point measurement was 55.0±3.0μm in the control group and 41.6±10.8μm in the LSCD group. Additionally, the OCT three-point measurement showed better correlation with IVCM compared with the OCT one-point measurement.

The degree of reduction in the OCT three-point measurement increased in more advanced clinical stages of LSCD, the researchers noted.

The OCT three-point measurement cutoff value that indicated LSCD was 46.6μm. Compared with the control group, LSCD eyes had decreases in maximum limbal epithelium thickness in all four limbal regions.

The sensitivity and specificity of OCT in three-step measurements was the highest among all maximum limbal epithelium thicknesses in detecting LSCD, the researchers said.

Liang Q, Le Q, Cordova DW, et al. Corneal epithelial thickness measured using AS-OCT as a diagnostic parameter for limbal stem cell deficiency. Am J Ophthalmol. April 10, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].