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Corneal sensitivity in patients with leprosy and in controls.
  1. L C Hieselaar,
  2. M Hogeweg and
  3. C L de Vries
  1. Department of Ophthalmology, Academic Medical Hospital, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


    AIMS--In a quantitative prospective study the corneal sensation in patients with leprosy was compared with age matched controls. METHODS--The patients with leprosy were classified as paucibacillary and multibacillary and were divided in three groups: (1) patients without clinically detectable eye pathology; (2) patients with lagophthalmos, (3) patients with signs of iridocyclitis. The corneal sensitivity was assessed with the Cochet and Bonnet aesthesiometer. RESULTS--There was a significant decrease in corneal sensitivity in multibacillary patients without clinically detectable eye pathology and in patients with lagophthalmos or iritis when compared with controls. A significant correlation between the loss of power of the orbicularis oculi muscle and the degree of corneal sensation loss could not be established. No significant decrease in corneal sensitivity was found in paucibacillary patients without eye pathology compared with the control group. CONCLUSION--The results of this study showed that loss of corneal sensation can occur while there is no clinically detectable eye pathology, at least in multibacillary patients. Regular checkups of the corneal sensation should, therefore, be part of the routine control of leprosy patients. Health education on eye care and early warning signs should be encouraged.

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