To describe the rate, clinical/microbiological characteristics, and outcomes of infectious keratitis in eyes with limbal stem cell deficiency after ocular surface stem cell transplantation (OSST).
In this retrospective chart review of 278 eyes that underwent OSST between January 2006 and December 2016, eyes treated for previous infectious keratitis (bacterial, fungal, or viral) were included. Demographics, risk factors, course, microbiological characteristics, and outcomes were assessed.
A total of 52 eyes (18.7%) of 48 patients (28 men and 20 women) developed 75 episodes (culture-proven or presumed) of infectious keratitis (range 1–4 episodes) with mean follow-up of 5.3 ± 3.6 years after OSST. The most common limbal stem cell deficiency etiologies included chemical/thermal (27 episodes), Stevens-Johnson syndrome (19 episodes), aniridia (8 episodes), and mucous membrane pemphigoid (8 episodes). There were 44 (58.7%) bacterial keratitis episodes, 24 (32%) fungal keratitis episodes, and 7 (9.3%) HSV keratitis episodes. Gram-positive bacteria (79%) and Candida species (73%) were the most common bacterial and fungal pathogens. Before infection, 33% had an epithelial defect, 69% had a bandage contact lens, 91% were on systemic immunosuppression, and 25% recently had undergone ocular surgery (<3 months). Although 75% resolved with antimicrobial treatment, 25% required a therapeutic keratoplasty (TPK; 2 cases needed multiple TPK).
Despite successful OSST surgery, infectious keratitis is relatively common, and aggressive medical/surgical therapy is warranted. Prophylactic topical antibiotics and a cicatrizing conjunctivitis diagnosis may account for the high proportion of fungal keratitis in this population.