Application of in vivo confocal microscopy in dry eye disease

Yukihiro Matsumoto, Osama M.A. Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Confocal microscopy is a new, emerging, noninvasive technology that can aid in the in vivo assessment of structural changes in several ocular surface diseases at the cellular level. In the dry eye field, in vivo confocal microscopy has been applied to the examination of the cornea, bulbar and palpebral conjunctiva, Meibomian gland, and lacrimal gland. The device can assess the morphology, including superficial/wing/basal epithelial cell density, stromal keratocyte density, endothelial cell density, nerve fiber density, the number of beadings, nerve tortuosity, nerve reflectivity, and inflammatory cell density in the cornea. Furthermore, the device can not only assess epithelial cell density and area, goblet cell, microcyst, and inflammatory cell density but also the cellular architecture, including nucleocytoplasmic ratio in conjunctiva. The device also can disclose acinar unit density, acinar unit longest diameter, acinar unit shortest diameter, and inflammatory cell density in the Meibomian gland and lacrimal gland by other potential applications. Relevant research in Europe and the United States focused on the morphologic changes in the cornea in the dry eye field, while Japanese research focused on the conjunctival, Meibomian gland, and lacrimal gland alterations. The application of in vivo confocal microscopy in dry eye disease will be a powerful method to evaluate the morphologic change of the ocular surface around the world in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)DES41-DES47
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number14 Special Issue
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov


  • Confocal microscopy
  • Conjunctiva
  • Cornea
  • Dry eye
  • Lacrimal gland
  • Meibomian gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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