A Corneal Scarring Model

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Abstract

Corneal opacification (i.e., haze) following a non-denaturing acute injury to the cornea is a process which takes about 5 days to manifest itself, indicating that it is the consequence of cellular and molecular biological processes. In order to obtain a better understanding of the haze development process, and to test candidate anti-haze therapies, we use a corneal scarring model whereby we create an excimer laser wound in the center of rabbit corneas. The primary data generated by this model are (1) changes in corneal thickness with time; (2) wound closure rates, or re-epithelialization; (3) changes in the location and density of corneal sub-epithelial haze; and (4) molecular and histological changes leading up to, during, and following the formation of haze.

While the use of excimer lasers to generate consistent wounds in rabbit corneas is not a novel protocol for the study of corneal haze, the photographic technique presented here for the more objective recording and quantification of corneal haze is. At present, a qualitative, semiquantitative, grading system is employed whereby the amount of iris detail discernible through the scar is assigned a value between 0 and 4. Such a system makes direct comparisons amongst reported anti-haze trials nearly impossible. Furthermore, the additional “geographic” detail provided by the image provides a new layer of information about the formation of haze and the ability to troubleshoot dosing regimens. Altogether, with the information present herein, we believe that the study of corneal haze formation and the ability to compare and contrast candidate therapies are both greatly improved.