Purpose: To evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the combination of topical cyclosporine drops and tacrolimus ointment in the treatment of steroid-dependent atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC).
Methods: Ten patients with moderate to severe AKC participated in the study. Topical cyclosporine 0.05% was used, as a monotherapy, 6 times daily during the first month of the study, followed by 4 times daily during the second month. The patients were then instructed to self-treat with topical cyclosporine at a dose ranging from 2 to 6 times daily depending on the severity of the disease. Tacrolimus ointment 0.03% was applied on the lid skin. Follow-up examinations were performed approximately every 3 months. Each patient completed a follow-up period of at least 12 months. Symptoms and signs of AKC were assessed on the day of enrollment, on days 28, 56, and 63, and at subsequent follow-up visits. Flare-ups of AKC requiring steroid use and progression of the disease findings were also recorded.
Results: All patients experienced significant improvement of their symptoms and signs during the first 2 months of the study. Two patients were lost to follow-up after the initial 2 months. One patient was noncompliant and continued the treatment only for 7 months. During the median treatment period of 21.5 months for the 7 continuing patients, a total of only 2 flare-up episodes were noted requiring topical steroids.
Conclusions: Adequate topical immunomodulation using topical calcineurin inhibitors may eliminate the need for steroids and favorably alter the long-term prognosis of patients with AKC.