A new method for in vivo assessment of corneal transparency using spectral-domain OCT

Maëlle Vilbert, Romain Bocheux, Cristina Georgeon, Vincent Borderie, Pascal Pernot, Kristina Irsch, Karsten Plamann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Corneal transparency is essential to provide a clear view into and out of the eye, yet clinical means to assess such transparency are extremely limited and usually involve a subjective grading of visible opacities by means of slit-lamp biomicroscopy. Here, we describe an automated algorithm allowing extraction of quantitative corneal transparency parameters with standard clinical spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Our algorithm employs a novel pre-processing procedure to standardize SD-OCT image analysis and to numerically correct common instrumental artifacts before extracting mean intensity stromal-depth (z) profiles over a 6-mm-wide corneal area. The z-profiles are analyzed using our previously developed objective method that derives quantitative transparency parameters directly related to the physics of light propagation in tissues. Tissular heterogeneity is quantified by the Birge ratio Br and the photon mean-free path (ls) is determined for homogeneous tissues (i.e., Br~1). SD-OCT images of 83 normal corneas (ages 22–50 years) from a standard SD-OCT device (RTVue-XR Avanti, Optovue Inc.) were processed to establish a normative dataset of transparency values. After confirming stromal homogeneity (Br <10), we measured a median ls of 570 μm (interdecile range: 270–2400 μm). By also considering corneal thicknesses, this may be translated into a median fraction of transmitted (coherent) light Tcoh(stroma) of 51% (interdecile range: 22–83%). Excluding images with central saturation artifact raised our median Tcoh(stroma) to 73% (interdecile range: 34–84%). These transparency values are slightly lower than those previously reported, which we attribute to the detection configuration of SD-OCT with a relatively small and selective acceptance angle. No statistically significant correlation between transparency and age or thickness was found. In conclusion, our algorithm provides robust and quantitative measurements of corneal transparency from standard SD-OCT images with sufficient quality (such as ‘Line’ and ‘CrossLine’ B-scan modes without central saturation artifact) and addresses the demand for such an objective means in the clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0291613
JournalPloS one
Issue number10 October
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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