PURPOSE: To determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with corneal perforation in patients with chronic ocular graft-versus-host disease (oGVHD).
METHODS: We reviewed the case records of 405 patients diagnosed with chronic oGVHD over 8 years at a single academic center and assessed the prevalence of corneal perforation in the cohort. We reviewed patient demographics, indication for and type of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), time elapsed between HSCT and perforation, and clinical characteristics including oGVHD severity scores, ocular comorbidities, and topical medications at the time of perforation. Data were analyzed to determine the characteristics of patients with corneal perforation and establish the risk factors.
RESULTS: Of the 405 patients with chronic oGVHD, 15 (3.7%) developed a corneal perforation. The mean age of patients at the time of perforation was 64 ± 11 years and 10 (67%) were men. The median time to corneal perforation was 3.3 years post-HSCT. Although perforation occurred unilaterally in all cases, 44% had epithelial defects and 38% had stromal abnormalities in the contralateral eye. Of the patients with corneal perforation, 9 (60%) had a National Institute of Health oGVHD severity score of 2 and 6 (40%) had a score of 3. Patients with chronic oGVHD on antiglaucoma drops had a significantly higher risk of corneal perforation (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Corneal perforation is a rare but vision-threatening complication of chronic oGVHD. Our study emphasizes the need for frequent and long-term follow-up of patients with oGVHD regardless of the severity of disease. In particular, patients with chronic oGVHD on topical antiglaucoma medications should be monitored closely due to a higher risk for corneal perforation.