The Cornea (clear portion in front of the eye)
At birth, the corneal endothelium contains approximately 3,000 endothelial cells/mm². These cells do not regenerate and therefore they need to last a lifetime. These cells are responsible for keeping the cornea clear. As we lose cells, they must stretch to fill in any gaps in the endothelium. Normally, we have enough cells but certain things such as Fuchs’ dystrophy, trauma, intraocular surgery, or inflammation may decrease the number of cells to the point that the cornea can become cloudy. This results in blurred vision.
Why is Knowing the Health of the Corneal Endothelium Important?
During routine cataract surgery or other intraocular surgeries, as many as 10 to 20 percent of the cells may be lost. It is therefore important to know the status of the cells so that the proper procedures can be planned before the surgery. If the cornea endothelium is not healthy then some of the newer premium intraocular lenses used during cataract surgery should not be used. The surgical techniques for surgery may need to be changed to allow for the unhealthy corneal endothelial cells.
How to Diagnose Low Endothelial Cell Counts?
Many times this can be diagnosed by the eye doctor during an eye exam. In very early cases it may be difficult to determine if the endothelial cells are completely normal. Only using a specular microscope can the doctor obtain an accurate count of the endothelial cells.
Specular microscopy can be performed using a specular microscope such as the Konan CellChek XL™ Specular Microscope. The examination is easy to perform as it is a non-contact microscope with a camera attached to capture an image of the corneal endothelium. The software evaluates the cells and provides a report of the endothelial cell status.
Using Specular Microscopy for Evaluating and Treating Patients
If there is any question about the health of the corneal endothelium, then specular microscopy is useful in following patients with these types of corneal diseases.
If a person is considering cataract surgery utilizing one of the premium intraocular lenses (provides clear vision for distance and near), then specular microscopy will help determine the proper intraocular lens and surgical technique.