Relationship Between the Degree of Iris Pigmentation and Corneal Sensitivity to a Cooling Stimulus

TitleRelationship Between the Degree of Iris Pigmentation and Corneal Sensitivity to a Cooling Stimulus
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsNtola, A., D. Nosch, R. Joos, and P. Murphy

PURPOSE: To explore the relationship between the degree of iris pigmentation and corneal sensitivity threshold (CST) on a variety of different ethnicities, using the air-jet noncontact corneal aesthesiometer and by applying a consistent method of subject iris pigmentation classification. METHODS: A total of 200 subjects (mean age 23.7 ± 3.1 years, 127 women) participated in this clinical cross-sectional study: 100 whites, 40 Asians, 40 Chinese, and 20 Afro-Caribbeans. CST was assessed within the central cornea using a noncontact corneal aesthesiometer, and the degree of iris pigmentation of each subject was noted according to the Seddon method using a set of graded photographs of iris pigmentation (grades 1-5). Inclusion criteria were absence of ocular disease including dry eye, no contact lens wear, and no use of artificial tears. Statistical testing between ethnicities was made by the pairwise t test with Holm adjustment, and a linear model was set up to analyze the effects of ethnicity and iris grade. RESULTS: A moderate trend for increasing CST with increasing iris pigmentation grade for all ethnicities was observed (R = 0.46; P < 0.0001), with CST changing from 0.66 ± 0.16 mbars for grade 1, 0.74 ± 0.18 mbars for grade 2, 0.86 ± 0.31 mbars for grade 3, 0.85 ± 0.32 mbars for grade 4, and 1.08 ± 0.40 mbars for grade 5. This correlation was stronger within the white group, representing the only ethnicity with all iris pigmentation grades (R = 0.50; P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: There is a moderate relationship between corneal sensitivity and the degree of iris pigmentation, with sensitivity increasing as iris pigmentation decreases. This relationship is stronger within whites.