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Corneal perforation from peripheral ulcerative keratopathy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: epidemiological findings of the British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit


Background/Aims This study quantifies the threat to vision and the survival in patients presenting with peripheral ulcerative keratopathy (PUK) corneal perforation associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the UK.

Methods New cases of corneal perforation from PUK in patients with RA were prospectively collected from the UK via the British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit from July 2012 to June 2014. An initial questionnaire collected data on presentation and the first 2 weeks’ management, and a follow-up questionnaire collected 1-year data on ocular morbidity and mortality.

Results 30 eyes of 28 patients were identified over 2 years, estimating a UK incidence of 0.234/million/year. 20/27 (74%) were female, with a median age of 68 years (range 41–84). The most common initial management was cyanoacrylate glue with a bandage contact lens, oral steroids, topical and oral antibiotics, and lubricants. Long-term management included corneal grafting in 12/20 (60%) eyes of patients living at 1 year. The 1-year all-cause mortality was 6/25 (24%), which increased to 1/2 (50%) if both eyes had perforated. In the remaining patients alive at 1-year follow-up, there was a 13/20 (65%) poor visual outcome of less than or equal to counting fingers. 8/25 (40%) patients had bilateral PUK, with 2/25 (8%) having bilateral perforation. 5/19 (26%) patients alive at 1-year follow-up were eligible for sight impairment registration.

Conclusion This study highlights the serious ocular morbidity and high mortality associated with corneal perforation from PUK in patients with RA despite treatment. The mortality doubled if both eyes perforated, which should serve as a harbinger of impending serious medical problems.

  • cornea
  • ocular surface
  • epidemiology

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