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October 1991

The Ultrastructural Defect in Conjunctiva From a Case of Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa

Author Affiliations

From the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md (Dr M. Iwamoto); the Department of Ophthalmology, Tulane Medical Center, New Orleans, La (Dr Haik); the Department of Ophthalmology, Cornell University Medical College (Dr T. Iwamoto), the Department of Pathology, Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital (Dr Harrison), and Rockefeller University (Dr Carter), New York, NY.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109(10):1382-1386. doi:10.1001/archopht.1991.01080100062043

• The predominant feature in the several forms of epidermolysis bullosa is the formation of cutaneous bullous lesions arising after minimal mechanical trauma. Ocular involvement has been noted as a complication. To our knowledge to date, only four investigators have correlated clinical eye disease with light microscopic findings. Ultrastructure of the ocular lesions has not been described previously. We present four cases of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa emphasizing their associated ocular complications. Diagnosis was confirmed by skin biopsy specimen and in one patient by demonstrating light and electron microscopic findings in eyelid skin. This tissue exhibited ultrastructural recessive cutaneous lesions; namely, bullous separation occurring below the basal lamina and absence of anchoring fibrils in both bullous and nonbullous areas. By electron microscopy, the conjunctiva in this patient exhibited an absence of clear anchoring fibrils that were numerous in control tissue. This defect may increase the susceptibility of the conjunctiva to minor mechanical trauma, resulting in the bullous and cicatricial changes seen clinically.

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