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Association between atopic keratoconjunctivitis and the risk of corneal ulcer


Aims To investigate the risk of corneal ulcer in patients with atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC).

Methods The nationwide, population-based, retrospective, matched cohort study included 171 019 newly diagnosed patients with AKC who were identified by the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM), code 372.05, and selected from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. The age-, sex- and potential comorbidities-matched control group included 171 019 patients with non-AKC selected from the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database 2000. Patient information was collected between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2011, and both groups of patients were tracked from the index date until December 2013. The incidence and risk of corneal ulcer (ICD-9-CM code 370.0 except for 370.07) was compared between the groups. A Cox proportional hazard regression analysis was performed to obtain the adjusted HR for corneal ulcer. The cumulative corneal ulcer incidence rate was calculated with the Kaplan-Meier analysis.

Results In total, 2018 patients with AKC and 1481 controls developed a corneal ulcer during the follow-up period. The incidence rate of corneal ulcer was 1.42 times (95% CI1.33 to 1.52; p<0.0001) higher in patients with AKC than in controls. After adjusting for potential confounders, including diabetes mellitus, chronic renal disease, topical steroid ophthalmic agent use, lid margin disease, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, ocular blunt trauma and post-corneal transplantation, patients with AKC were 1.26 times more likely to develop a corneal ulcer than controls (adjusted HR, 1.26; 95% CI 1.14 to 1.39; p<0.05).

Conclusions Patients with AKC had an increased risk of developing a corneal ulcer and should be advised of this risk.

  • Cornea
  • Epidemiology
  • Ocular surface

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