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Optical Coherence Tomography Assessment of the Cornea During Corneal Swelling

Should the Term “Descemet Membrane Folds” Be Reconsidered?

Annadanam, Anvesh, BS*; Stoeger, Christopher G., MBA, CEBT; Galloway, Joshua D., CEBT; Hikes, Matthew T., CEBT; Jun, Albert S., MD, PhD*

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000001908
Basic Investigation

Purpose: Previous work has suggested that Descemet membrane (DM) folds arise in response to corneal swelling. However, their origin has not been closely explored. In this study, we used optical coherence tomography to evaluate whether DM folds arise secondary to folds in the middle stroma.

Methods: Serial optical coherence tomography images of donor cornea pairs in deionized water were taken for each of the following corneal manipulations: 1) untreated, 2) DM and the endothelium removed, 3) excised in the region of the deep middle/posterior stroma, and 4) excised in the middle stroma.

Results: For intact corneas, increasing duration in deionized water was marked by a progressive increase in corneal thickness and number of folds along the posterior surface. With DM and the endothelium removed, a similar phenomenon was observed. In the third set of corneas, the plane of resection created a structural separation in the region of the deep middle/posterior stroma. Folds were seen originating anterior to the resection plane. For corneas with the posterior and part of the middle stroma removed, the typical folds on the posterior surface as seen in the previous conditions were not observed. Instead, less numerous and smaller irregularities of the posterior surface of the resection plane were present.

Conclusions: Folds in DM associated with corneal edema originate in the middle and posterior stroma and are secondarily transmitted into DM. On the basis of the stromal origin of these anatomic changes, “stromal folds” should be considered a more accurate term to replace “Descemet membrane folds.”

*Cornea, Cataract, and External Disease Division, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD; and

Lions VisionGift, Portland, OR.

Correspondence: Albert S. Jun, MD, PhD, Cornea, Cataract and External Disease Division Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Wilmer, Woods 376 600 N. Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21287 (e-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received November 22, 2018

Received in revised form January 08, 2019

Accepted January 10, 2019

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