For chemical burns a considerable lack of methods exists for defining penetration kinetics and effects of decontamination within biological structures. We demonstrate that time-resolved high-resolution optical coherence tomography can close this gap by monitoring changes in scattering properties and thicknesses of rabbit cornea ex vivo after topical application of different corrosives. Modifications in the corneal microstructure due to direct chemical interaction or changes in the hydration state as a result of osmotic imbalance compromise the corneal transparency. The associated increase in light scattering intensity within the cornea is observed with high spatial and temporal resolution. Parameters affecting the severity of pathophysiological damage like diffusion velocity, depth of penetration, resistance of barriers, and effectiveness of emergency treatment procedures are obtained. This study demonstrates the potential of high-resolution OCT for the visualization and direct non-invasive measurement of specific interaction of chemicals with the eye, exemplified on hydrofluoric acid burn.
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