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May 1994

Ocular Manifestations of Leprosy in a Noninstitutionalized Community in the United States

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary (Drs Dana, Hochman, Viana, and Sugar), and the Department of Dermatology (Dr Hill), University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine; and the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Center, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health (Dr Viana). Dr Dana is now affiliated with the Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1994;112(5):626-629. doi:10.1001/archopht.1994.01090170070025

Objective:  Our goal was to delineate the epidemiologic and clinical patterns of ocular leprosy in an outpatient setting in the United States.

Design:  Examinations were performed in 61 consecutive outpatients seen in a Midwestern leprosy clinic.

Patients:  Forty-three male and 18 female patients were examined. The patients' origins included Southeast Asia (24 patients [39%]), Latin America (23 patients [38%]), India (nine patients [15%]), Europe or North America (two patients [3%]), Africa (two patients [3%]), and the Middle East (one patient [2%]).

Results:  Thirty-nine percent of patients were classified as having polar lepromatous leprosy; 18%, borderline lepromatous leprosy; 3%, borderline borderline leprosy; 36%, borderline tuberculoid leprosy; 2%, polar tuberculoid leprosy; and 2%, indeterminate leprosy. Ninety-six percent of patients had a best-corrected visual acuity of 20/40 or better. Ocular findings included madarosis (28 patients [46%]), subconjunctival fibrosis (18 patients [30%]), punctate epithelial keratopathy (17 patients [28%]), posterior subcapsular cataract (10 patients [16%]), corneal hypesthesia (10 patients [16%]), lagophthalmos (seven patients [11%]), corneal pannus (six patients [10%]), entropion (five patients [8%]), prominent or beaded corneal nerves (four patients [7%]), iridocyclitis (four patients [7%]), focal avascular keratitis (three patients [5%]), scleritis (three patients [5%]), interstitial keratitis (two patients [3%]), iris pearls (two patients [3%]), and ocular clofazimine crystals (two patients [3%]). Madarosis, corneal hypesthesia, and posterior subscapsular cataracts were significantly associated with disease duration (P<.05).

Conclusion:  We report herein a relatively low frequency of visual impairment attributable to leprosy in our series compared with that seen among institutionalized leprous patients. However, since 48% of subjects had one or more sight-threatening complications as a result of their disease, a program of regular ophthalmic follow-up is strongly advocated for all patients with leprosy.

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