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Revista Brasileira de Oftalmologia

Print version ISSN 0034-7280On-line version ISSN 1982-8551


COELHO, João et al. Unmasking keratoconus: effect of corneal epithelium in keratoconus. Rev. bras.oftalmol. [online]. 2019, vol.78, n.1, pp.22-26. ISSN 0034-7280.


In the presence of an irregular cornea, like in keratoconus, the corneal epithelium has a different profile “masking” the irregular corneal stroma surface. Topographical analysis without considering the epithelium effect can result in an incorrect assessment, affecting the accuracy of any topography guided treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the “masking” effect of the corneal epithelium on corneal curvature in patients with keratoconus, comparing topographical findings before and after removal of the epithelium during Crosslinking (CXL).


Five eyes of 5 patients with progressive keratoconus submitted to CXL according to the original Dresden protocol. Corneal topography was performed before and during the procedure (immediately after epithelium removal) and values of keratometry: K1, K2, mean K (Km), maximum corneal apical curvature (Kmax), corneal thickness and corneal astigmatism were evaluated.


The average values of corneal curvature before and after epithelial remove were: K1: 43.50±2.54D and 44.32±2,64D (p=0.080); K2 46.64±2,35D and 49.38±2,86D (p=0.043); Km 45.48±2.42D and 46.72±2.60D (p=0.042). It was also observed a significant increase in the maximum values of corneal apical curvature after removal of the epithelium (p=0.043). In central corneal thickness there was seen a reduction of 26.8µm from 524.8±33.0µm to 498.2±37.7µm (p = 0.042).


There was seen a significant increase in the values of Kmax, K2 and mean K. This study demonstrates the masking effect of corneal epithelium on corneal curvature in keratoconus.

Keywords : Cornea; Keratoconus; Epithelium; Crosslinking; Corneal topography.

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