Objectives Corneal nerve damage may be a surrogate marker for the risk of ischemic stroke. This study was undertaken to determine if there is greater corneal nerve damage in patients with recurrent ischemic stroke. Methods Corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) was used to quantify corneal nerve fiber density (CNFD), corneal nerve branch density (CNBD), corneal nerve fiber length (CNFL) and corneal nerve fiber tortuosity (CNFT) in 31 patients with recurrent ischemic stroke, 165 patients with a first acute ischemic stroke and 23 healthy control subjects. Results Triglycerides (P = 0.004, P = 0.017), systolic BP (P = 0.000, P = 0.000), diastolic BP (P = 0.000, P = 0.000) and HbA1c (P = 0.000, P = 0.000) were significantly higher in patients with first and recurrent stroke compared to controls. There was no difference in age, BMI, HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL, systolic and diastolic BP between patients with a first and recurrent ischemic stroke. However, CNFD was significantly lower (24.98±7.31 vs 29.07±7.58 vs 37.91±7.13, P<0.05) and CNFT was significantly higher (0.085±0.042 vs 0.064±0.037 vs 0.039±0.022, P<0.05) in patients with recurrent stroke compared to first stroke and healthy controls. CNBD (42.21±24.65 vs 50.46±27.68 vs 87.24±45.85, P<0.001) and CNFL (15.66±5.70, P<0.001 vs 17.38±5.06, P = 0.003) were equally reduced in patients with first and recurrent stroke compared to controls (22.72±5.14). Conclusions Corneal confocal microscopy identified greater corneal nerve fibre loss in patients with recurrent stroke compared to patients with first stroke, despite comparable risk factors. Longitudinal studies are required to determine the prognostic utility of corneal nerve fiber loss in identifying patients at risk of recurrent ischemic stroke.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)