Setting: Eye Clinic, University of Florence, Italy.
Design: Longitudinal observational retrospective study.
Methods: Data on patients who received an application of a polysaccharide blend of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, xanthan gum, and carrageenan (EyeDRO) on the corneal surface and data on patients who received a balanced salt solution during phacoemulsification surgery were analyzed. The central corneal thickness (CCT) and epithelial thickness were examined using anterior segment optical coherence tomography, and the corneal basal epithelial cell (BEC) and Langerhans cell densities by in vivo confocal microscopy. The ocular surface disease index (OSDI) score, tear breakup time (TBUT), and Schirmer test I values were evaluated.
Results: The study comprised data on 28 patients in the coating gel group and 26 patients in the balanced salt solution group. In the coating gel group, the CCT and epithelial thickness values returned to the baseline value within 5 and 15 postoperative days, respectively; the BEC and Langerhans cell densities returned to baseline levels within 15 and 30 postoperative days. In the balanced salt solution group, the mean BEC and Langerhans cell densities were significantly different from the preoperative values at all follow-up assessments. The TBUT returned to the preoperative level at day 5 in the coating gel group. The OSDI scores returned to the preoperative values after 15 days in the coating gel group and 30 days in the balanced salt solution group.
Conclusions: The use of a tripolymeric gel as a corneal coating during cataract surgery played a protective role on the corneal surface and reduced postoperative discomfort symptoms.