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Giant Fornix Syndrome: A Case Series

Turaka, Kiran M.D.*; Penne, Robert B. M.D.; Rapuano, Christopher J. M.D.*; Ayres, Brandon D. M.D.*; Abazari, Azin M.D.*; Eagle, Ralph C. Jr. M.D.; Hammersmith, Kristin M. M.D.*

Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: January/February 2012 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 4–6
doi: 10.1097/IOP.0b013e3182264440
Original Investigations

Purpose: To describe the demographics, characteristics, and treatment of giant fornix syndrome, a rare cause of chronic purulent conjunctivitis in the elderly.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of five patients with giant fornix syndrome evaluated by the Cornea Service, Oculoplastics and Orbital Surgery Service and the Department of Pathology at the Wills Eye Institute.

Results: The median age of the 5 female patients was 75 years (mean 80, range 70–95). The median duration of eye symptoms before presentation was 2 years (mean 2.4, range 1–4). Before referral, the chronic conjunctivitis was treated with topical antibiotics in all 5 cases and with additional dacryocystorhinostomy in one case. The right eye was affected in 2 cases, and the left eye was affected in the other 3 cases. Floppy eyelids were present in 2 cases. The superior fornix was involved in 4 cases, and the inferior fornix was involved in one case. Pseudomembranes and superficial punctate keratitis (SPK) were seen in 3 cases. Diagnosis of giant fornix syndrome was made in all 5 cases. Conjunctival culture grew methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and S. aureus in singular cases. Case 1 was treated with topical moxifloxacin, Case 2 was treated with topical vancomycin and repair of the upper eyelid, Case 3 was treated with topical besifloxacin, and Case 4 was treated with dacryocystorhinostomy and topical vancomycin. Case 5 was treated with reconstruction of the left upper eyelid. The median duration of follow up was 4 months (mean 21.6, range 1–84).

Conclusions: Giant fornix syndrome can lead to chronic relapsing conjunctivitis in the elderly. Deep conjunctival fornices in affected patients can be a site for prolonged sequestration of bacteria causing recurrent infections. Removing the infected debris from the superior fornix and reconstruction of the upper eyelid may prevent the recurrent chronic persistent infection.

*Cornea Service, Oculoplastics and Orbital Surgery Service, and the Department of Pathology, Wills Eye Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Accepted for publication April 27, 2011.

The abstract was presented as a poster at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting, Visionary Genomics 2011, May 1–6, 2011, Fort Lauderdale, FL, U.S.A. (Poster #1963/D944).

The authors have no financial interest in the subject of this document.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Christopher J. Rapuano, M.D., Cornea Service, Suite 920, Wills Eye Institute, 840 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, U.S.A. E-mail:

©2012The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Inc.