PURPOSE: To identify the definitions used for the terms subclinical keratoconus and forme fruste keratoconus in published articles. METHODS: This was a prospective, systematic literature review of the electronic database in PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and LILACS Database of all studies using the keywords "subclinical keratoconus" and/or "forme fruste keratoconus" until August 18, 2017. Two independent reviewers analyzed the data. The inclusion criteria for articles were having analyzed subclinical keratoconus or forme fruste keratoconus eyes with a sample size greater than 10 eyes; containing the definition of subclinical keratoconus or forme fruste keratoconus; and the quality of published reports was assessed using standards quality index methods. The following aspects of the selected articles were then analyzed: Inclusion criteria for definition and technology used. RESULTS: A total of 198 and 95 studies, respectively, including the definition of subclinical keratoconus and forme fruste keratoconus were collected in an initial search, of which 165 and 73 studies, respectively, were excluded. Definitions for subclinical keratoconus and forme fruste keratoconus included the criteria of having keratoconus in the fellow eye in 72.72% (24 of 33) and 77.27% (17 of 22) of the articles, respectively. A total of 96.97% (32 of 33) and 90.90% (20 of 22) of the studies used more than one parameter to define subclinical keratoconus and forme fruste keratoconus, respectively. The most common extra parameters included normal slit-lamp examination and cornea on slit-lamp biomicroscopy and inferior-superior asymmetry and/or bowtie pattern with skewed radial axes. CONCLUSIONS: This review demonstrates the lack of unified criteria to define subclinical keratoconus and forme fruste keratoconus. According to the literature review, the most common subclinical keratoconus definition used refers to an eye with topographic signs of keratoconus and/or suspicious topographic findings under normal slit-lamp examination and keratoconus in the fellow eye and the most common forme fruste keratoconus definition refers to an eye with normal topography, normal slit-lamp examination, and keratoconus in the fellow eye.
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