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Rheumatoid arthritis-associated peripheral ulcerative keratitis outcomes after early immunosuppressive therapy


Background/aims To evaluate the role of early immunosuppressive therapy (IMT) in the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-associated peripheral ulcerative keratitis (PUK).

Methods Single-centre, retrospective, comparative cohort study. Patients with RA-associated PUK were divided into two groups; those exposed to and those not exposed to early IMT, defined as administrating therapy within the first 4 weeks from the PUK onset. Outcomes included PUK recurrence, control of inflammation and development of ocular complications, including corneal scarring and perforation, cataract formation or progression and permanent visual loss.

Results A total of 52 eyes from 36 patients were included for analysis; 37 (71.2%) eyes received early IMT and 15 (28.8%) eyes did not. Follow-up time was 41.2+53.3 months (range: 4–236 months). While early IMT was a protective factor (HR 0.345, 95% CI 0.126 to 0.946, p=0.039), late RA diagnosis after PUK onset (HR 4.93, 95% CI 1.75 to 13.85, p=0.002) and retarded (≥2 months) control of inflammation (HR 8.37, 95% CI 1.88 to 37.16, p=0.005) were risk factors for PUK recurrence. Late IMT (OR 7.75, 95% CI 2.00 to 29.99, p=0.003), an unknown diagnosis of RA at first visit (OR 4.14, 95% CI 1.15 to 14.91, p=0.030) and at least one PUK recurrence (OR 6.42, 95% CI 1.71 to 24.07, p=0.006) were risk factors for visual loss. Survival analysis rendered eyes exposed to early IMT a lower risk of PUK recurrence (p=0.039).

Conclusion Eyes with RA-associated PUK exposed to early IMT were more likely to achieve earlier inflammatory control, fewer recurrences and had better visual outcomes.

  • Cornea
  • Immunology
  • Inflammation
  • Sclera and Episclera
  • Ocular surface

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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