Can in vivo confocal microscopy differentiate between sub-types of dry eye disease? A review

Jodi Hwang, Harrison Dermer, Anat Galor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Many studies utilised in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) to associate variations in corneal structures with dry eye disease (DED). However, DED is an umbrella term that covers various aetiologies and presentations. This review analyses populations by DED aetiology to determine the relationships between IVCM parameters and specific DED sub-types. It focuses on the most commonly examined structures, sub-basal nerves and dendritic cells. Across the literature, most studies found individuals with immune-mediated DED had lower sub-basal nerve fibre number and density than controls, with smaller differences between non-immune DED and controls. However, wide ranges of values reported across studies demonstrate considerable overlap between DED sub-types and controls, rendering these metrics less helpful when diagnosing an individual patient. Dendritic cell density was considerably higher in individuals with immune-mediated DED than in non-immune DED or controls. As such, dendritic cell density may be a better indicator of DED associated with a systemic immune-mediated process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-387
Number of pages15
JournalClinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • dendritic cells
  • dry eye disease
  • in vivo confocal microscopy
  • sub-basal nerves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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