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Topical tacrolimus for allergic eye diseases

Erdinest, Nira; Ben-Eli, Hadasa,b; Solomon, Abrahama

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: October 2019 - Volume 19 - Issue 5 - p 535–543
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0000000000000560
EYE ALLERGY: Edited by Leonard Bielory and Abraham Solomon

Purpose of review The spectrum of allergic eye diseases includes a variety of conditions, each characterized by complex immunopathologies.

Antiallergic drugs, such as antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers, are often insufficient without concomitant topical corticosteroid treatment. The chronic course of the more severe allergic eye diseases, such as vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) and atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC), limits the treatment with topical corticosteroids to short courses. In addition, topical corticosteroid treatment puts patients at high risk of developing severe ocular complications, particularly during childhood when VKC most frequently occurs.

The immunopathology of chronic diseases, such as VKC and AKC, involves predominantly T lymphocytes, and as such, immunomodulators that inhibit T-cell activation seem to be the appropriate treatment for these chronic diseases. In the past years, there is an increased incidence of managing chronic allergic eye diseases with the immunomodulator tacrolimus. The current review presents an update of the recent clinical experience with topical tacrolimus for the management of chronic allergic eye diseases.

Recent findings Topical tacrolimus significantly improves the symptoms and signs of the various forms of chronic allergic eye disease. Recent studies also demonstrate the efficacy of low concentrations of topical tacrolimus for VKC.

Early medical treatment with topical tacrolimus can also prevent the development of serious ocular complications of VKC, such as shield ulcers or limbal stem cell deficiency.

Summary Topical tacrolimus has significantly changed the management approaches in severe and chronic allergic eye diseases and has minimized the need for topical corticosteroids.

aDepartment of Ophthalmology, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center

bDepartment of Optometry and Vision Science, Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, Israel

Correspondence to Abraham Solomon, MD, Cornea & Refractive Surgery Service, Department of Ophthalmology, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem 91120, Israel. Tel: +972 507874664; e-mail:

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