How Should Corneal Nerves Be Incorporated Into the Diagnosis and Management of Dry Eye?

Sneh Patel, Divy Mehra, Kimberly Cabrera, Anat Galor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Confocal microscopy and aethesiometry have allowed clinicians to assess the structural and functional integrity of corneal nerves in health and disease. This review summarizes literature on nerves in dry eye disease (DED) and discusses how this data can be applied to DED diagnosis and treatment. Recent Findings: Subjects with DED have a heterogeneous symptom and sign profile along with variability in nerve structure and function. Most studies have reported lower nerve density and sensitivity in aqueous tear deficiency, while findings are more inconsistent for other DED subtypes. Examining nerve status, along with profiling symptoms and signs of disease, can help categorize subjects into disease phenotypes (structural and functional patterns) that exist under the umbrella of DED. This, in turn, can guide therapeutic decision-making. Summary: Due to the heterogeneity in symptoms and signs of DED, corneal nerve evaluations can be valuable for categorizing individuals into disease sub-types and for guiding clinical decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Ophthalmology Reports
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Aethesiometry
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Corneal nerves
  • Dry eye disease
  • Phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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