Endothelial specular microscopy is a photograph of the posterior (endothelial cell) layer of the cornea.
Alternative Names:
Endothelial Cell Count, Specular Photomicroscope

What to Expect

  • The patient is seated in front of the instrument with the chin placed in a chin rest, and the forehead against a support bar to keep the head still during the test. 
  • The patient gazes at a central green fixation light and a photograph is taken.  
  • The patient will be asked to hold still and not blink while the photograph is taken.
  • The test will take approximately 5 minutes per eye.

How the Test Feels

There is no discomfort with this test. 

Why the Test is Performed

This test is useful in determining why the cornea is not functioning properly.  Test results yield information on the total number of endothelial cells and/or the size and shape of the endothelial cells. 


  • Normal Values
    Normal endothelial cell counts vary with the age of the patient.


  • Abnormal Results
    Abnormal or low endothelial cell counts may indicate underlying corneal disease such as:
    • Fuchs’ dystrophy
    • Contact lens overwear