The Impact of Topical Corticosteroids Used in Conjunction with Antiamoebic Therapy on the Outcome of Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Ophthalmology. 2016 May;123(5):984-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.020. Epub 2016 Mar 5.


Purpose: To examine the impact of topical corticosteroid use after the start of antiamoebic therapy (AAT) on the outcomes of Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) therapy.

Design: Cohort study.

Participants: A total of 196 patients diagnosed with AK at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, between January 1991 and April 2012. In 13 patients with bilateral AK, 1 eye was randomly excluded from analysis.

Methods: Patient demographics and clinical examination findings were collected both at the start of AAT and subsequently at the time that topical corticosteroid therapy was initiated. Preliminary a priori investigations were used to identify effect modifiers/confounders and extreme associations requiring consideration in multivariate regression modeling. A multivariable logistic model, optimized for assessment of corticosteroid use after the start of AAT, was used to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) of a suboptimal outcome.

Main outcome measures: Suboptimal outcome was defined as final visual acuity ≤20/80, corneal perforation, or the need for keratoplasty.

Results: In multivariable analysis, restricted to 129 eyes (1 eye per patient) free of scleritis and hypopyon at the start of AAT, topical corticosteroids were not associated with worse outcomes (OR, 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39-3.03), even when corticosteroids had been used before the start of AAT. Risk factors significantly associated with worse outcomes were topical corticosteroid use before the start of AAT (OR, 3.85; 95% CI, 1.35-11.03), a corneal ring infiltrate (together with at least 1 other feature of AK) present at the start of AAT (OR, 5.89; 95% CI, 1.17-29.67), and age ≥33 years at the start of AAT (OR, 4.02; 95% CI, 1.46-11.06).

Conclusions: Many corneal specialists currently are uncertain about the risk benefit associated with the use of topical corticosteroids for the management of inflammatory complications of AK. The evidence from this study gives clinicians and patients reassurance that the potential benefits of topical corticosteroid therapy, for treating pain and discomfort, are not associated with worse outcomes when initiated after starting modern AAT. Other potential benefits, in terms of resolution of inflammatory complications, will not be demonstrated without a carefully designed randomized clinical trial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba Keratitis / drug therapy*
  • Acanthamoeba Keratitis / physiopathology
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzamidines / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Eye Infections, Parasitic / drug therapy*
  • Eye Infections, Parasitic / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Benzamidines
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • propamidine isethionate