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Vertical and Horizontal Corneal Epithelial Thickness Profiles Determined by Ultrahigh Resolution Optical Coherence Tomography

Du, Chixin MD; Wang, Jianhua MD, PhD; Cui, Lele MD; Shen, Meixiao MSc; Yuan, Yimin MD

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31823f8d56
Basic Investigation

Purpose: To measure vertical and horizontal thickness profiles of the central and peripheral corneal epithelium and determine if daytime changes occur.

Methods: Forty eyes of 20 normal subjects were imaged by ultrahigh resolution spectral domain optical coherence tomography to profile the corneal epithelial thickness from the edge of Bowman layer to the central cornea across the vertical and horizontal meridians. Measurements were made at 10:00 AM and again at 6 and 8 hours later.

Results: The baseline vertical meridional epithelial thickness was thinnest, 42.9 ± 4.1 μm, at the edge of Bowman layer in the superior region. It increased in thickness (P < 0.01), toward the central cornea. The central epithelium averaged 52.5 ± 2.4 μm, becoming thickest, 55.2 ± 2.5 μm, in the inferior pericentral region. It thinned toward the inferior periphery, reaching 51.3 ± 5.1 μm at the edge of Bowman layer (P < 0.01). Along the horizontal meridian, the epithelium was thickest at the nasal side, 58.6 ± 5.1 μm, and temporal side, 59.3 ± 6.6 μm, near the edges of Bowman layer. It thinned toward the central cornea. There were no significant changes in the epithelial thickness at any location over 8 hours.

Conclusions: Epithelial thickness varied over the horizontal and vertical meridians and appeared stable during the daytime.

*Department of Ophthalmology, First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

Department of Ophthalmology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL

School of Ophthalmology and Optometry, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China

Reprints: Jianhua Wang, Department of Ophthalmology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, 1638 Northwest 10th Avenue, McKnight Building, Room 202A, Miami, FL 33136 (e-mail:

Supported by research grants from Vistakon, National Institutes of Health Center Grant P30 EY014801, and Research to Prevent Blindness.

Dr Jianhua Wang is a recipient of the Vistakon research grant. The other authors have no proprietary interest in any materials or methods described in this article.

Received February 18, 2011

Accepted July 18, 2011

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.