Vernal keratoconjunctivitis revisited: a case series of 195 patients with long-term followup

Ophthalmology. 2000 Jun;107(6):1157-63. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(00)00092-0.


Objective: This study aimed at revisiting vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) on the basis of anamnestic, clinical, immunologic, histopathologic, and followup data of 195 patients.

Design: Retrospective noncomparative case series.

Participants: One hundred and ninety-five patients with VKC.

Methods: Clinical evaluation and outcome in 151 of 195 patients with a median followup of 47 months. Evaluation was by telephone survey in 69 patients.

Main outcome measures: (1) Demographic, clinical, and immunologic features of VKC and their influence on the course of the disease; (2) conjunctival and corneal complications and efficacy of treatment observed during the followup period.

Results: VKC is a chronic disease. More than 60% of patients had repeated recurrences all year round. Males had an earlier presentation of symptoms than females and the male/female ratio decreased with age. Major (greater than 80%) and minor (up to 80%) diagnostic criteria were defined for clinical signs and symptoms of the disease. Negative skin test or radioallergosorbent test was present in approximately 50% of patients, whereas eosinophil infiltration was a constant histopathologic finding. A marked conjunctival sensitivity to nonspecific stimuli was noted in more than one third of patients. In 6% of cases, a reduction of visual acuity resulted from corneal scarring, and in 2% of patients, steroid-induced glaucoma was observed. The large size of giant papillae indicates poor prognosis for the persistence of the disease and its evolution into a chronic, perennial condition.

Conclusions: VKC is a chronic eosinophilic disease of the ocular surface involving IgE, non IgE-mediated mechanisms, and age-sex-related influences. Although the disease has a good prognosis, severe visual impairments may result from long-standing inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conjunctiva / immunology
  • Conjunctiva / pathology
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / complications*
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / diagnosis
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / epidemiology
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / immunology
  • Cornea / immunology
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies