Management of corneal complications in vernal keratoconjunctivitis: A review

Ocul Surf. 2021 Jan:19:282-289. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2020.10.005. Epub 2020 Oct 24.


Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is a chronic, bilateral, allergic conjunctivitis with episodes of acute exacerbations. Although VKC has a self-limiting course, chronic recurrent inflammation can cause long-term visual impairment due to corneal complications including shield ulcers, infectious keratitis, keratoconus, corneal opacities, and limbal stem cell deficiency. The initial step in the management of corneal involvement is medical treatment of the acute stage of VKC and prevention of recurrences. Giant papillae not responding to medical treatment can be removed surgically in the case of corneal involvement. Shield ulcer with no inflammatory plaque usually heals with appropriate medical therapy. For shield ulcer with inflammatory plaque, however, surgical debridement with or without amniotic membrane transplantation might be necessary. Keratoconus may develop in chronic and severe VKC. An annual evaluation of these patients with corneal topography and/or tomography is essential for early detection of keratoconus and its timely management that includes collagen cross-linking and intrastromal corneal ring segment implantation. Corneal transplantation may be required in the advanced stage of keratoconus. Both penetrating keratoplasty and deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty can result in excellent visual outcomes in keratoconic eyes with concomitant VKC. Appropriate management of inflammation in the perioperative period is crucial for achieving successful outcomes after corneal transplantation. Limbal stem cell deficiency, a rare complication of long-standing and severe VKC, might be treated with living-related conjunctival limbal allograft.

Keywords: Corneal complications; Corneal opacity; Keratoconus; Limbal stem cell deficiency; Management; Shield ulcer; Vernal keratoconjunctivitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conjunctiva
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic* / complications
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic* / therapy
  • Cornea
  • Corneal Topography
  • Humans
  • Keratoconus* / complications
  • Keratoconus* / therapy