Date Published:2015 Jul
OBJECTIVE: Patients suffering from corneal neuropathy may present with photoallodynia; i.e., increased light sensitivity, frequently with a normal slit-lamp examination. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of autologous serum tears (AST) for treatment of severe photoallodynia in corneal neuropathy and to correlate clinical findings with corneal subbasal nerve alterations by in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM). METHODS: Retrospective case control study with 16 patients with neuropathy-induced severe photoallodynia compared to 16 normal controls. Symptom severity, clinical examination and bilateral corneal IVCM scans were recorded. RESULTS: All patients suffered from extreme photoallodynia (8.8±1.1) with no concurrent ocular surface disease. Subbasal nerves were significantly decreased at baseline in patients compared to controls; total nerve length (9208±1264 vs 24714±1056 μm/mm(2); P<.0001) and total nerve number (9.6±1.4 vs 28.6±2.0; P<.0001), respectively. Morphologically, significantly increased reflectivity (2.9±0.2 vs 1.8±0.1; P<.0001), beading (in 93.7%), and neuromas (in 62.5%) were seen. AST (3.6±2.1 months) resulted in significantly decreased symptom severity (1.6±1.7; P=.02). IVCM demonstrated significantly improved nerve parameters (P<.005), total nerve length (15451±1595 μm/mm(2)), number (13.9±2.1), and reflectivity (1.9±0.1). Beading and neuromas were seen in only 56.2% and 7.6% of patients. CONCLUSION: Patients with corneal neuropathy-induced photoallodynia show profound alterations in corneal nerves. AST restores nerve topography through nerve regeneration, and this correlated with improvement in patient-reported photoallodynia. The data support the notion that corneal nerve damage results in alterations in afferent trigeminal pathways to produce photoallodynia.