We performed a retrospective clinicopathological review of 124 patients with epithelial downgrowth seen over a 30-year-period at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. The purpose of this study was to determine predisposing factors in the development of epithelial downgrowth, diagnostic symptoms and signs, and the results of various types of treatments. The incidence of this condition after cataract surgery was 0.12%, decreasing to 0.08% over the latter decade. 82% of postsurgical patients with epithelial downgrowth presented to the ophthalmologist within one year following surgery, commonly complaining of decreasing visual acuity, red eye, and pain. The most common presenting signs of epithelial downgrowth were retrocorneal membrane, which was seen in 45% of patients, glaucoma in 43%, corneal oedema in 21%, and a positive Seidel test in 23%. We found that a variety of conditions predispose to epithelial downgrowth but that no one factor was present in all cases. Damage to the underlying endothelium, corneal stromal vascularisation, and stromal downgrowth appeared to be important events not emphasised in prior studies. The angle was partially or totally closed in 87% of enucleation specimens. Patients treated surgically underwent fewer enucleations than those treated medically or not treated.
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