Diagnosis of Ocular Tuberculosis

Ocul Immunol Inflamm. 2018;26(2):208-216. doi: 10.1080/09273948.2016.1178304. Epub 2016 Jul 5.


Ocular tuberculosis remains a presumptive clinical diagnosis, as the gold standard tests for diagnosing ocular tuberculosis are often not useful: Mycobacterium tuberculosis cultures require weeks to process on Lowenstein-Jenson media and have low yield from ocular samples; while acid-fast bacilli smears or polymerase chain reaction detection of M. tuberculosis DNA have low sensitivities. Thus, diagnosis is often based on suggestive clinical signs, which are supported by positive investigations: tuberculin skin test or interferon-gamma release assays; chest X-ray findings suggestive of pulmonary tuberculosis, and/or evidence of associated systemic tuberculosis infections in the absence of other underlying disease. The aim of this review is to provide an update on the methods of diagnosing ocular tuberculosis, and discuss the challenges of its diagnosis. We also suggest a step-ladder approach to a more accurate diagnosis of ocular tuberculosis by combining the available diagnostic tests.

Keywords: Ocular tuberculosis; chest X-ray; interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) release assay (IGRA); polymerase chain reaction (PCR); tuberculin skin test.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma Release Tests
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis, Ocular / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis