Peripheral ulcerative keratitis in the setting of rheumatoid arthritis: treatment with immunosuppressive therapy

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1995 Aug;25(1):67-73. doi: 10.1016/s0049-0172(95)80019-0.


Peripheral ulcerative keratitis (PUK) is a rare but serious inflammatory eye condition that can complicate rheumatoid arthritis. PUK can be a warning sign of impending vasculitis, and cytotoxic therapy may be necessary to induce remission. We have encountered three patients with PUK in the past year. Two patients had long-standing quiescent rheumatoid arthritis who developed photophobia. Diagnosis was made by slit lamp examination. Treatment with local cyclophosphamide and prednisone resulted in prompt remission of the ulcer within 8 weeks. Cytotoxic therapy was discontinued altogether within 6 months. The third patient was also treated successfully with oral steroids and azathioprine. In all patients, sicca was noted. None of them had any evidence of systemic vasculitis. PUK, when recognized early and treated aggressively, can result in remission of the ulcer and in the prevention of vasculitis. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca can accompany PUK independent of the activity of rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use
  • Corneal Ulcer / complications*
  • Corneal Ulcer / drug therapy*
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca / complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Azathioprine
  • Prednisone