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Kafarnik, Christiane; Fritsche, Jens; Reese, Sven ORCID: 0000-0002-4605-9791 (2007): In vivo confocal microscopy in the normal corneas of cats, dogs and birds. In: Veterinary ophthalmology, Vol. 10, No. 4: pp. 222-230
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Objective:  To evaluate the applicability of in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) in veterinary ophthalmology and analyze the morphology of living, healthy cornea. Animals examined:  Thirty-seven dogs, 34 cats and five birds. Procedure:  Various corneal sublayers were visualized in the central region using an in vivo confocal corneal microscope (HRTII/RCM®). Results:  An investigation method was developed and adapted for use on animals with varying skull forms and eye positions. Real-time images of the epithelial cells, the corneal stroma and the endothelial layer were obtained. The corneal stromal nerve trunks and the subepithelial and basal epithelial nerve plexus were visualized. In dogs, full corneal thickness (FCT) was 585 ± 79 µm (mean ± SD) and endothelial cell density (ECD) 3175 ± 776 cells/mm2 (mean ± SD). In cats, FCT was 592 ± 80 µm and ECD 2846 ± 403 cells/mm2. There were no significant differences between canine and feline FCT and ECD and no morphologic differences could be seen between dogs and cats. The bird images revealed a number of structural differences. Conclusion:  Noninvasive IVCM allows accurate detection of corneal sublayers, corneal pachymetry, endothelial cell density and corneal innervation in various animal species. For clinical usage, patients must be under general anesthesia. The confocal images provided anatomic reference images of various healthy corneal structures in dogs, cats and birds.