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Risk factors for perforation in microbial corneal ulcers in north India


Aim: To identify predisposing factors leading to corneal perforation in patients with microbial keratitis.

Method: Two groups of 60 patients each, with perforated corneal ulcers and healed/healing corneal ulcers, respectively, were recruited in a case-control study conducted in northern India. The cases and controls were matched by age and time of presentation. A standardised proforma was used to identify potential predisposing factors for demographic, social, medical, ocular, and treatment history. All participants underwent a detailed ocular examination. Corneal scrapings were performed where relevant.

Results: The characteristics associated with corneal perforation in microbial keratitis were outdoor occupation (p = 0.005), illiteracy (p = 0.02), excessive alcohol use (p = 0.03), history of “something falling into eye” (p = 0.003), trauma with vegetable matter (p = 0.008), vision less than counting fingers at referral (p<0.001), central location of ulcer (p<0.001), lack of corneal vascularisation (p<0.001), delay in starting initial treatment (p<0.001), failure to start fortified antibiotics (p<0.001), and monotherapy with fluoroquinolones (p = 0.002). The lack of corneal vascularisation (OR 6.4, 95% CI 4.2 to 13.5), delay in starting initial treatment (OR 35.6, 95% CI 6.9 to 68.2), and failure to start fortified antibiotics (OR 19.9, 95% CI 2.7 to 64.7) retained significance on a logistic regression model.

Conclusions: This study characterises microbial keratitis cases at increased risk of corneal perforation and reinforces the need for standardised referral and treatment protocols for patients with corneal ulcer on their first contact at primary care level in the developing world.

  • keratitis
  • corneal ulcer
  • eye infection
  • corneal perforation

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