Postoperative sympathetic ophthalmia

Int Ophthalmol Clin. Winter 2000;40(1):69-84. doi: 10.1097/00004397-200040010-00008.


Although uncommon, SO is a fearful postoperative complication because of its potential to blind both eyes. It can result not only from penetrating ocular surgery but also from nonpenetrating ocular procedures. Thus, it is important to consider in any patient who has undergone ocular surgery and develops bilateral uveitis, particularly because prompt, sufficient treatment is required to maximize visual outcome. It is also important to note that the disease may present with a spectrum of clinical findings, none of which is pathognomonic. Thus, suspicion is important for making the diagnosis. Treatment should address the T-cell-mediated nature of the disease. With appropriate treatment, visual acuity of no less than 20/60 is likely. However, before the start of treatment, which consists of immunosuppressants, infection must be ruled out and potential side effects of treatments must be considered. Furthermore, any patient with a history of SO needs ample immunosuppressant coverage for ocular procedures. Better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease may lead to safer treatments that result in improved visual outcome and a cure. Meanwhile, because of its relapsing nature, SO requires continual, close surveillance, even after many years of quiescence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Incidence
  • Ophthalmia, Sympathetic / diagnosis
  • Ophthalmia, Sympathetic / drug therapy
  • Ophthalmia, Sympathetic / epidemiology
  • Ophthalmia, Sympathetic / etiology*
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Prognosis
  • Visual Acuity


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents