Corneal epitheliopathy in congenital methemoglobinemia

Cornea. 2014 Apr;33(4):422-4. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000000076.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to describe a previously unreported characteristic corneal epitheliopathy in congenital methemoglobinemia (type 1).

Methods: This was an observational case series of ocular findings in congenital methemoglobinemia.

Results: Siblings of 2 different affected families (age range, 12-14 years; 3 girls, 1 boy) affected with congenital methemoglobinemia had similar ocular complaints and clinical presentation. All of them had recurrent episodes of irritation and tearing in both eyes. Slit lamp biomicroscopy examination in all of them revealed the presence of dark colored corkscrew conjunctival vessels (prominently seen on the tarsal and forniceal region) and grayish-white raised corneal epithelial lesions. Diagnostic corneal scrapings in 2 of the patients showed the presence of epithelial cells with nonspecific inflammatory cells, and the results were negative for microbes. None of the patients had any abnormality in the lid adnexa, blink response, corneal sensation, or in the tear film. The corneal lesions resolved in 2 to 3 weeks time while on supportive therapy alone and on vitamin C supplements.

Conclusions: Dark colored conjunctival vessels and recurrent corneal epitheliopathy causing irritation and tearing may be ocular features associated with congenital methemoglobinemia. It is pertinent for ophthalmologists, hematologists, and pediatricians to be aware of this association.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Consanguinity
  • Corneal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Corneal Diseases / etiology*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methemoglobinemia / complications
  • Methemoglobinemia / congenital*
  • Methemoglobinemia / diagnosis
  • Siblings
  • Visual Acuity

Supplementary concepts

  • Congenital Methemoglobinemia