Chlorhexidine in the treatment of microsporidial stromal keratitis and the effect of host immunity: A case series and literature review

J Chin Med Assoc. 2022 Apr 1;85(4):532-536. doi: 10.1097/JCMA.0000000000000661.


Microsporidial stromal keratitis is an increasingly well-known vision-threatening disease. A large proportion of cases are initially misdiagnosed as herpes simplex keratitis and treated with topical steroids. In most of such cases, medical treatment failed, and corneal transplantation was required. This study reported the results of 0.02% topical chlorhexidine used to treat three cases of microsporidial stromal keratitis and reviewed the literature on the outcomes of microsporidial stromal keratitis treatment. In the first case, histopathology of a specimen from penetrating keratoplasty (PK) revealed severe chronic inflammation involving the entire stromal layer but no microorganism activity after the application of topical chlorhexidine for 10 months. The second case exhibited complete resolution of keratitis after topical chlorhexidine. The patient in the third case did not respond to medical treatment, and therapeutic PK was performed. Histopathological examination revealed numerous microsporidial spores that had colonized in the mid and deep stroma, where few inflammatory cells were observed. These findings explain the variable microsporidial susceptibility to chlorhexidine, suggesting the crucial role of host immunity. In cases of host immunity, topical chlorhexidine may represent a promising option for the treatment of microsporidial stromal keratitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use
  • Corneal Stroma / pathology
  • Eye Infections, Fungal* / diagnosis
  • Eye Infections, Fungal* / drug therapy
  • Eye Infections, Fungal* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Keratitis* / diagnosis
  • Keratitis* / drug therapy
  • Keratitis* / pathology
  • Microsporidiosis* / diagnosis
  • Microsporidiosis* / drug therapy
  • Microsporidiosis* / surgery


  • Chlorhexidine