Purpose: We have developed a novel technique to measure in vivo corneal nerve migration. Methods: Wide-field montages of the subbasal corneal nerve plexus were generated at baseline and after 3 weeks. The 2 montages were manually examined side by side to identify a referent landmark in the inferior whorl region and 20 additional nerve landmarks throughout each montage. A software program was developed to measure nerve migration by quantifying the movement of the nerve landmarks relative to the inferior whorl landmark over the 3-week period. To illustrate the utility of this technique, nerve migration was measured in 2 individuals with diabetes (one with and the other without neuropathy) and a healthy control participant. Results: The average nerve migration rate was calculated to be 18.4, 49.9, and 41.5 mm/wk for the diabetic individuals with and without neuropathy and the control participant, respectively. The number of landmarks for tracking nerve migration in the participants was 26, 21, and 20, and they were at an average distance of 1500, 1940, and 1461 mm, from the whorl, respectively. The rate of migration depended on the distance from the whorl; hence, linear equations were generated for each subject for comparison. Conclusions: This novel imaging technique allows rapid measurement of in vivo corneal nerve migration. The results indicate that diabetic neuropathy may be associated with reduced nerve migration; however, because of the high level of manual input required in this technique and the apparent complex characteristics of corneal nerve migration, repeatability and characterization studies are needed.
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