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In Journal of refractive surgery (Thorofare, N.J. : 1995)

PURPOSE : To review the contribution of in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) to the understanding of corneal wound healing following refractive surgery, and its role in the diagnosis and management of complications arising from keratorefractive procedures.

METHODS : Review of the basic science and clinical literature relating to the study of keratorefractive surgical procedures using IVCM.

RESULTS : Extensive research using IVCM has generated a comprehensive understanding of tissue responses after corneal refractive surgery. Epithelial thickness and stromal keratocyte density can be quantified postoperatively and studied longitudinally. Corneal nerve loss and subsequent reinnervation has been characterized and differs significantly between laser refractive techniques. IVCM has also been used to study complications arising from postoperative inflammation (diffuse lamellar keratitis, central toxic keratopathy, ring keratitis, and ectasia), infection (microbial keratitis), and neuropathy (dry eye and neuralgia). This imaging technique can have a critical role in the diagnosis of these complications and subsequent monitoring of treatment response. Manual processing of IVCM images is time-consuming and there may be significant interobserver and intraobserver variability with poor repeatability. However, increasing automation and the use of artificial intelligence is improving the speed and accuracy of image analysis.

CONCLUSIONS : IVCM has historically been confined to a research setting because image capture and subsequent processing was extremely labor intensive. However, advances in both hardware and software capabilities promise to allow the use of IVCM in routine clinical practice. Real-time evaluation of the cornea at a cellular level will be particularly useful in patients with inflammatory, infectious, or neuropathic complications of keratorefractive surgery. [J Refract Surg. 2021;37(7):493-503.].

Stewart Stephen, Liu Yu-Chi, Lin Molly Tzu-Yu, Mehta Jodhbir S