Corneal Hydrops - Aetiology and Advanced Therapeutic Strategies.

Klinische Monatsblatter fur Augenheilkunde(2023)

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Acute hydrops refers to sudden corneal edema caused by rupture of Descemet's membrane (DM) - often in progressive keratectasia. It leads to a sudden decrease in visual acuity, pain, and foreign body sensation as well as an increased glare sensation. Acute hydrops usually heals with scarring within months, but complications such as corneal perforation, infectious keratitis, and corneal vascularization may occur. The prevalence in keratoconus patients is 2.6 to 2.8%. Risk factors include keratoconjunctivitis vernalis, atopic dermatitis, high keratometry, male gender, and eye rubbing. Keratoplasty should be avoided in the acute phase. The prognosis of the graft is reduced, and after scar healing of the hydrops, wearing contact lenses or glasses may be possible again. Conservative therapy alone with lubricants and hyperosmolar eye drops, prophylactic antibiotic eye drops to prevent superinfection, and topical steroids was long considered the only possible form of treatment. However, healing under conservative therapy takes an average of over 100 days. In the meantime, there are different surgical strategies that rapidly shorten the healing and thus the recovery phase of the patients to a few days. If the DM is detached without tension, a simple injection of gas into the anterior chamber can already lead to reattachment and thus to almost immediate deswelling of the cornea. If the DM is under tension, predescemetal sutures combined with a gas injection into the anterior chamber can flatten the cornea and reattach the DM. Mini-Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (mini-DMEK) allows for sutureless closure of the DM defect by transplantation of a small (< 5 mm) graft. In cases of particularly large DM tears and very pronounced hydrops, suture loosening and relapse may occur after the placement of predescemetal sutures. Mini-DMEK can then lead to permanent healing, but in contrast to simple corneal sutures, it is usually performed under general anesthesia and by aid of intraoperative optical coherence tomography. The very good results with regard to the rapid healing prove that surgical therapy makes sense in the vast majority of patients with acute hydrops and should be initiated quickly.
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