In vivo confocal microscopy characteristics of equine epithelial and subepithelial nonulcerative keratomycosis.


Ledbetter EC, Irby NL, Teixeira LBC.
Vet Ophthalmol. 2019 Mar;22(2):168-176.



To describe the in vivo confocal microscopy features of horses with epithelial and subepithelial nonulcerative keratomycosis.


Four horses with a clinical diagnosis of epithelial or subepithelial keratomycosis.


Horses were examined on one or more occasions by in vivo laser scanning confocal microscopy of the cornea. Confocal microscopic examination characteristics were correlated with clinical, cytological, and histopathological findings for the horses.


All horses had an irregular corneal epithelial surface during slit-lamp biomicroscopy examination. Epithelial or subepithelial corneal opacities were present in multifocal or diffuse patterns. Positive rose bengal corneal staining was present focally or diffusely in all cases. Fungal hyphae were detected in cytological or histopathological corneal samples from all horses. Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium spp. were cultured from corneal samples. Confocal microscopy detected hyphae diffusely distributed over the axial cornea in horses with epithelial clinical disease. Fungal hyphae were present in all layers of the corneal epithelium and associated with disorganized and sloughing epithelial cells with minimal leukocytes. Subepithelial keratomycosis was correlated with focal, dense accumulations of hyphae in the immediate subepithelial anterior stroma that were surrounded by moderate numbers of leukocytes. Two horses were examined by confocal microscopy on multiple occasions during the course of medical therapy, and fungal hyphae were observed to migrate from the epithelium into the subepithelial stroma as the clinical corneal disease progressed.


With in vivo confocal microscopy, both epithelial and subepithelial keratomycosis appear as unique clinical entities. Equine epithelial keratomycosis is a potential precursor to subepithelial keratomycosis.