Correlations between clinical signs and corneal cytology in feline eosinophilic keratoconjunctivitis

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Objective: To assess correlations between clinical and cytological features of feline eosinophilic keratoconjunctivitis at the time of cytological diagnosis. Animals Studied: Fifteen client-owned, domestic breed cats (18 eyes) examined between 2007 and 2019. Procedures: An electronic search and medical record review of cats diagnosed with feline eosinophilic keratitis or keratoconjunctivitis (FEK) based on clinical examination findings and eosinophils detected on corneal cytology were conducted. Clinical severity was graded using a modified version of a previously validated semiquantitative preclinical ocular toxicology scoring (SPOTS) system. Clinical grades were assigned following review of clinical images and medical record descriptions, and cytological grades were assigned following review of archived corneal cytology slides. Correlations were analyzed for significance using Spearman's rank correlation coefficient. Results: Higher total corneal scores correlated with higher total conjunctival scores, but not with total fluorescein scores. Small lymphocyte scores correlated negatively with scores for collagen degeneration or mineralization. Globule leukocytes, a unique cell type not previously described in ocular cytology, were identified in 4 of 18 cytological samples. Higher globule leukocyte scores were correlated with higher scores for mast cells or plasma cells. Specimens with lower eosinophil scores had higher globule leukocyte scores. Conclusions: Large variability was detected in the cytological characteristics and clinical features of FEK-affected cats. This is the first report of globule leukocytes being identified in ocular cytology from any species. The role of globule leukocytes in the etiopathogenesis and progression of FEK remains unknown and warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVeterinary Ophthalmology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • cornea
  • feline
  • feline eosinophilic keratitis
  • feline eosinophilic keratoconjunctivitis
  • globule leukocyte
  • hypersensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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