Author(s): McMonnies CW
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Abstract PURPOSE: Corneal scarring in keratoconus, which is observed prior to contact lens wear and in association with a chronic habit of abnormal rubbing, suggests a keratocyte change to a repair phenotype in response to rubbing trauma. METHODS: This review examines known and putative mechanisms for rubbing-related corneal trauma and cone formation. RESULTS: Responses to eye rubbing (and possible causal links) may include increased corneal temperature, epithelial thinning, increased concentrations of inflammatory mediators in the precorneal tears, abnormal enzyme activity, large intraocular pressure spikes, high hydrostatic tissue pressure, thixotropically reduced ground substance viscosity, temporary displacement of ground substance from the corneal apex, buckling and flexure of fibrils associated with waves of corneal indentation, biomechanically coupled curvature transfer to the cone apex, slippage between collagen fibrils at the cone apex, and changes to keratocytes due to mechanical trauma and/or high hydrostatic pressure, in addition to scar formation. Cone formation appears to depend on a loss of shear strength and may be a consequence of a reduction in ground substance viscosity and glue function, which could allow the cornea to bend and yield to intraocular pressure. CONCLUSIONS: For some forms of keratoconus, a reduction in shear strength and cone-forming deformation may be responses to rubbing trauma. Some of the mechanisms for corneal rubbing trauma may be relevant to post-laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis ectasia or complications following other types of corneal surgery. There appear to be indications for the control of chronic habits of abnormal rubbing.
This article was published in Cornea
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Case Reports