[Vernal keratoconjunctivitis]

Klin Monbl Augenheilkd. 2014 May;231(5):505-11. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1368335. Epub 2014 May 5.
[Article in German]


Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) belongs to the group of allergic eye diseases. The incidence varies considerably, depending on the climate zone. In temperate climates VKC occurs only seasonally, while in hot climates it is mostly all year-round and rather more severe. Most commonly boys are affected in the first decade of life. Pathophysiological feature is a dense mixed cellular infiltrate with sometimes extremely thickened epithelium. It shows pronounced capillary proliferation, fibrosis and a thickened extracellular matrix. Inflammatory responses can be divided into IgE-mediated and non-IgE mediated inflammation. The clinical picture is characterised by pronounced subjective symptoms and the emergence of giant papillae, mostly on the upper tarsal conjunctiva. Distinction can be made into a limbal form and a palpebral form. Corneal changes are the most threatening complications with development of corneal erosions and shield ulcers. The therapeutic approach uses mainly drugs to block the release of inflammatory mediators such as histamine. These are usually local antihistamines and dual action preparations. Topical steroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors are only used in more severe situations. The same applies for the use of systemic corticosteroids or new biologics e.g., IgE inhibitors. Surgical therapy is predominantly required for the treatment of corneal complications. In general, VKC usually has a self-limiting course. However, during phases of inflammation with the risk of developing vision-threatening complications therapy is always indicated.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / diagnosis*
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / therapy*
  • Histamine Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / trends*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Histamine Antagonists