Corneal Neovascularization

Last updated on November 1st, 2017 at 07:59 am

Corneal neovascularization (CNV) is the in-growth of new blood vessels from the pericorneal plexus into avascular corneal tissue as a result of oxygen deprivation. Preserving avascularity of the corneal stroma is a crucial element of corneal pathophysiology as it is needed for corneal openness and optimum vision. A decrease in corneal openness causes visual acuity deterioration. Corneal tissue is avascular in nature and the existence of vascularization, which can be deep or shallow, is always pathologically related.

Corneal Neovascularization Definition

Corneal neovascularization is a sight-threatening condition that can be caused by swelling related to infection, chemical injury, autoimmune conditions, post-corneal hair transplant, and terrible conditions among other ocular pathologies. Typical causes of CNV within the cornea include trachoma, corneal ulcers, phylctenular keratoconjunctivitis, rosacea keratitis, interstitial keratitis, sclerosing keratitis, chemical burns, and using contact lenses for over-extended amount of times. Superficial presentations of CNV are normally associated with contact lens wear, while deep discussions may be caused by chronic inflammatory and anterior section ocular diseases.

Corneal neovascularization is becoming increasingly common around the world with an estimated occurrence rate of 1.4 million cases each year, according to a 1998 research study by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. The very same research study found that the tissue from twenty percent of corneas taken a look at during corneal transplantations had some degree of neovascularization, negatively affecting the diagnosis for people undergoing keratoplasty procedures.

What Causes Corneal Neovascularization?

CNV causes may be genetic in nature, such as with Aniridia, or gotten. Often, inflammatory, contagious, degenerative, distressing and iatrogenic (from contact lenses) diseases are accountable for gotten CNV.

Some significant associated, acquired inflammatory conditions consist of graft rejection following keratoplasty, graft or host diseases of the new tissue, atopic conjunctivitis, rosacea, ocular pemphigoid, Lyell’s syndrome, and Steven’s Johnson syndrome.

Infections accountable for CNV range from bacterial (chlamydia, syphilis, pseduomonas), Viral (herpes simplex and herpes zoster viruses), Fungal (candida albicans, asperigillus, fusarium), and parasistic (onchocerca volvolus).

Degenerative illness such as pterygiums, and terrien’s minimal degeneration might be responsible.

Traumas regularly seen with CNV consist of ulcer, alkali burns, and stem cell shortage.

Among the most common causes of corneal neovascularization is iastrogenic pathology from contact lens wear. This is specifically true of lenses made with older hydrogel materials such as HEMA (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) for both day-to-day and prolonged wear. Such older hydrogel products have a fairly low oxygen transmissibility so the cornea becomes starved of oxygen causing the ingress of blood capillaries into the clear cornea to please that oxygen demand. Older price quotes have 128,000 to 470,000 cases of lens-induced CNV each year, however this might be reducing due to the increasing appeal of day-to-day non reusable lenses.

The risk for CNV is elevated in certain instances for patients following penetrating keratoplasty without active swelling or epithelial defects. CNV is most likely to occur in those with active blepharitis, those who receive sutured knots in their host stromas, and those with a large recipient area.

Corneal neovascularization

Symptoms of Corneal Neovascularization

The in-growth of new members vessels is moderated by the upregulation of angiogenic cytokines. The enzyme metalloproteinase degrades the cornea’s basement membrane and extracellular matrix, while proteolytic enzymes allow vascular epithelial cells to go into the stromal layer of the cornea.

When ocular inflammation occurs, corneal epithelial and endothelial cells, macrophages and certain inflammatory cells produce angiogenic growth elements, particularly vascular endothelial development factor (VEGF) and fibroblast growth elements. VEGF leads the way for new members vessel formation by upregulating matrix metalloproteinases production by endothelial cells in the limbal vascular plexus.

Treatment for Corneal Neovascularization

Treatments for corneal neovascularization are predominately off-lab with a plethora of complications as an outcome. The preferred results from medical therapy might not always happen, ergo an invasive procedure might be needed to prevent more reduction in corneal avascularity.

For contact lenses associated hypoxia, stopping the use of contact lenses is the primary step till corneal neovascularization is attended to by a physician. Modern rigid gas permeable and silicon hydrogel contact lenses have a much greater level of oxygen transmissiblility, making them reliable alternatives to help avoid corneal neovascularization.

Topical administration of steroids and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs are first-line treatment for individuals with CNV. The administration of steroids can increase the risk of infection, glaucoma, cataracts, herpes simplex recurrence. The anti-inflammatory drugs, nevertheless, increase the risk of corneal ulcer and melting.

Because VEGF plays an essential function in vasculogenesis and pathologic neovascularization associated with eye diseases, a potential treatment for CNV is to prevent VEGF activity by completing the binding of VEGF with specific neutralizing anti-VEGF antibody. VEGF inhibitors consist of pegatanib salt, ranibizumab, and off-label bevacizumab are currently used for treatment of different retinal disease. Anti-VEGF antibodies such as the application of ranibizumab or bevacizumab have has been shown to reduce corneal neovascularization. Both ranibizumab and bevacizumab uses the exact same mechanism and hinders all iso-forms of VEGF.

The significant reduction in intrusion of in-growth blood vessels in regards to neovascular area and vessel quality recommends that treatment with ranibizumab causes thinning of the blood vessels, however, there’s no significant modification of the blood vessel’s length. Using anti-VEGF antibodies to treat CNV has some constraints such as it is not a treatment and might require repetitive treatments to maintain positive effects in time. Topical and/or subconjunctival administration of bevaicizumab or ranibizumab have actually demonstrated short-term safety and effectiveness, however long term effects have not been documented. Anti-VEGF therapy is presently an experimental treatment.

If the cornea is inflamed by means of corneal neovascularization, the suppression of enzymes can obstruct CNV by jeopardizing with corneal structural integrity. Corneal neovascularization can be suppressed with a mix of orally administration of doxycycline and with topical corticosteroid.

Surgical Options

Invasive options for corneal neovascularization are booked when the medical therapies do not provide the wanted outcomes.

Invading blood tissues and ablating tissues in the cornea can be blocked by the use of laser treatments such as Argon and Nd: YAG lasers. Irradiation and/or damages to nearby tissues caused by the procedure can lead to corneal hemorrhage and corneal thinning. Obstruction of the capillary can be unsuccessful due to the depth, size, and, high blood circulation rate of the vessels. In conjunction, thermal damage from the lasers can trigger inflammatory action which can overemphasize the neovascularization.

An effective treatment is photodynamic therapy, however, this treatment has actually restricted clinical acceptance due to high expenses and lots of prospective complications included that are also connected to laser ablation. Complications can consist of irradiation from formerly injected photosensitive color inducing apoptosis and necrosis of the endothelium and basement membrane.

Diathermy and cautery is a treatment where an electrolysis needle is placed into the feeder vessels in the limbus. The vessels are blocked by a coagulating current through using unipolar diathermy system or by thermal cautery.


In advanced stages, corneal neovascularization can threaten vision, which is why routine (annual) eye examinations are recommended for contact lens patients.

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Comments: 1
  1. Anna

    Neovascularization is a serious disease that can lead to complete loss of vision, and patients with such a terrible disease often undergo regular medical examinations every year. At the severe stages of the disease, surgical laser surgery is performed. Of course, it is better to avoid such diseases and carefully select for yourself the lenses on which your health depends. Of course, these lenses are expensive but vision is more expensive.

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