Corneal confocal microscopy for the diagnosis of diabetic autonomic neuropathy

Mitra Tavakoli, Piyara Begum, John Mclaughlin, Rayaz Malik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Diabetic autonomic neuropathy (DAN) results in increased morbidity and mortality. The early diagnosis of DAN can be difficult and is commonly evaluated using cardiac autonomic function tests as a surrogate. However, they are not widely available, have limited sensitivity and specificity, and can be confounded by concomitant cardiovascular disease and medications. Methods: The diagnostic utility of corneal confocal microscopy for diagnosis of DAN was assessed. Thirty-four diabetic patients without [Composite Autonomic Scoring Scale (CASS)≤2] vs with (CASS>2) DAN and 18 healthy control subjects (HC) underwent detailed assessment of somatic and autonomic neuropathy, Composite Autonomic Symptom Scale (COMPASS), (CASS), and Corneal Confocal Microscopy (CCM). Results: Corneal nerve fiber density, branch density, and length showed a progressive and significant reduction in patients with DAN vs HC and those without DAN. CCM correlated highly significantly with COMPASS and CASS, and corneal nerve fiber parameters demonstrated a high sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of DAN. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that corneal nerve damage detected using CCM can be deployed to diagnose subclinical and overt DAN. It therefore represents a rapid, non-invasive, highly sensitive and specific diagnostic test for DAN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-370
Number of pages8
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015



  • Autonomic Neuropathy
  • Corneal confocal microscopy
  • Corneal nerves
  • Diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)

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