Pseudoexfoliation syndrome: pathological manifestations of relevance to intraocular surgery

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2004 Apr;32(2):199-210. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2004.00806.x.


Pseudoexfoliation syndrome (PEX) is a common ocular condition often associated with the need for intraocular surgery. Although results of cataract and glaucoma filtering surgery in eyes with PEX in the early stages of the disease may be comparable to those in eyes without PEX, in the later stages morbidity is significantly increased due to periocular surgical complications and the outcome is worse. Surgical and postoperative difficulties are often multifactorial and are directly related to the pathological changes of PEX on intraocular structures. Recent years have seen a large increase in the understanding of the effects of PEX on the various ocular tissues. Although the visible areas of the anterior capsule are most obviously involved, this is only a small part of the picture and of least significance. Biomicroscopically invisible changes of the zonules and their attachments are of greatest consequence. There is also distinct, often active, involvement of almost all tissues of the anterior segment of the eye, many of which have important implications for the anterior segment surgeon including iridopathy, iris vasculopathy (including persistent breakdown of the blood-aqueous barrier and anterior segment hypoxia), ciliary body involvement and keratopathy. Trabecular dysfunction is evident by the deposition of PEX material derived from both in situ and extra-trabecular production as well as protein and melanin deposition. These changes should be kept in mind by all intraocular surgeons as a source of potential difficulties in the perioperative period. Additionally, in light of these changes, patients need to be given realistic expectations regarding the increased risk of complications and more prolonged expected recovery time. In this short review, current reports relating to PEX pathological changes of practical interest to the intraocular surgeon are summarized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exfoliation Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Exfoliation Syndrome* / etiology
  • Exfoliation Syndrome* / surgery
  • Humans