The aim of this study was to evaluate how Scheimpflug-derived parameters of eyes with Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) are influenced by Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) depending on FECD severity and the presence of subclinical edema.
A retrospective cohort study including 115 eyes (115 patients) that underwent DMEK for FECD and a control group of 27 eyes with nonpathological corneas was conducted. Preoperative and 6 months postoperative Scheimpflug imaging was used to analyze pachymetry, presence of tomographic features (loss of isopachs/displacement of the thinnest point/focal posterior depression), and corneal backscatter. FECD severity was based on the modified Krachmer scale and the absence/presence of subclinical edema.
Scheimpflug-derived pachymetry, tomographic, and corneal backscatter parameters were correlated with FECD severity, and all changed from preoperatively to postoperatively (all P < 0.05). Postoperative central corneal thickness, anterior and posterior corneal backscatter, and presence of focal posterior depression remained different from the control group (all P < 0.05). Of eyes without preoperative clinical edema (n = 75), 18.7% showed 0 or 1 tomographic feature (no edema group) and 82.4% had 2 or 3 features (subclinical edema group). Compared with the control group, postoperative best-corrected visual acuity for the “no edema” group did not differ (0.03 ± 0.12 vs. −0.02 ± 0.08 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution, P = 0.150) but was worse for the subclinical edema group (0.06 ± 0.08 vs. −0.02 ± 0.08 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution, P = 0.001).
For eyes without preoperative edema, more parameters reversed back to ‘normal’ levels than for eyes with (sub)clinical edema. Although most analyzed parameters correlated with FECD severity, corneal tomography might be best suited for objective grading of disease severity to aid in surgical decision-making.