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Corneal complications after orbital radiotherapy for primary epithelial malignancies of the lacrimal gland
  1. Sri K Gore1,
  2. Nicholas P Plowman2,
  3. Aruna Dharmasena1,
  4. David H Verity1,
  5. Geoffrey E Rose1
  1. 1 Orbital Clinic, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Medical Oncology, St Bartholomew’s and the London Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Geoffrey E Rose, Adnexal Service, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, City Road, London EC1V 2PD, UK; geoff.rose{at}


Purpose To review the long-term corneal complications after high-dose external beam orbital radiotherapy given to patients for lacrimal gland carcinomas. The impact of prophylactic measures to improve long-term ocular surface health is also assessed.

Design Retrospective case series.

Participants Patients under the care of Moorfields Eye Hospital and receiving external beam radiotherapy for primary epithelial lacrimal gland carcinoma between 1975 and 2014.

Methods Retrospective review of ophthalmic case notes at Moorfields Eye Hospital, and oncology and general physician records.

Main outcome measures The occurrence of corneal perforation, and time to perforation.

Results Sixty-seven patients were included in this study, of whom nine (13%) developed corneal perforation at a median time of 10.4 months after radiotherapy (mean 35; range 3.2 months to 14.5 years); the majority (7/9; 78%) perforated within 36 months of radiotherapy. The mean follow-up interval of the whole cohort was 8.2 years (median 4.6; range, 2 months to 30.7 years).

Conclusions Although most patients with globe-sparing treatment of lacrimal gland carcinoma did not suffer corneal perforation, they usually require long-term therapy to maintain the ocular surface. The high-dose external beam radiotherapy needed for lacrimal gland carcinoma can produce significant ocular surface morbidity, and the 13% incidence of corneal perforation was greatest in the first 3 years after irradiation.

  • orbit
  • lacrimal gland
  • neoplasia
  • cornea
  • ocular surface

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  • Contributors Data collection (SKG, AD); statistical analysis (SKG); manuscript drafting (SKG, GER); manuscript editing and approval (NP, DHV, GER, SKG).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.

  • Ethics approval This study received ethics and institutional committee approval from the Research and Development Department of Moorfields Eye Hospital, and the research adhered to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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