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Imaging assessment of conjunctival goblet cells in dry eye disease.

Dry eye disease (DED) is a widespread, multifactorial, and chronic disorder of the ocular surface with disruption of tear film homeostasis as its core trait. Conjunctival goblet cells (CGCs) are specialised secretory cells found in the conjunctival epithelium that participate in tear film formation by secreting mucin. Changes in both the structure and function of CGCs are hallmarks of DED, and imaging assessment of CGCs is important for the diagnosis, classification, and severity evaluation of DED. Existing imaging methods include conjunctival biopsy, conjunctival impression cytology and in vivo confocal microscopy, which can be used to assess the morphology, distribution, and density of the CGCs. Recently, moxifloxacin-based fluorescence microscopy has emerged as a novel technique that enables efficient, non-invasive and in vivo imaging of CGCs. This article presents a comprehensive overview of both the structure and function of CGCs and their alterations in the context of DED, as well as current methods of CGCs imaging assessment. Additionally, potential directions for the visual evaluation of CGCs are discussed.

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