Corneal Nerve Abnormalities in Ocular and Systemic Diseases

Sneh Patel, Jodi Hwang, Divy Mehra, Anat Galor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The trigeminal nerve gives rise to the corneal subbasal nerve system, which plays a crucial role in sensations of touch, pain, and temperature and in ocular healing processes. Technological advancements in instruments, in particular in vivo confocal microscopy and aethesiometry, have allowed for the structural and functional evaluation of corneal nerves in health and disease. Through application of these technologies in humans and animal models, structural and functional abnormalities have been detected in several ocular and systemic disorders, including dry eye disease (DED), glaucoma, migraine, and fibromyalgia. However, studies across a number of conditions have found that structural abnormalities do not always relate to functional abnormalities. This review will discuss instruments used to evaluate corneal nerves and summarize data on nerve abnormalities in a number of ocular and systemic conditions. Furthermore, it will discuss potential treatments that can alleviate the main manifestations of nerve dysfunction, namely ocular surface pain and persistent epithelial defects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108284
JournalExperimental Eye Research
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Aethesiometry
  • Corneal nerves
  • In vivo confocal microscopy
  • Ocular surface pain
  • Persistent epithelial defect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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