Eye Disease and Leprosy

Below Details are Adapted from the American Academy of Ophthalmology Summary Benchmarks, November 2010 (www.aao.org)

(Ratings: A: Most important, B: Moderately important, C: Relevant but not critical Strength of Evidence: I: Strong, II: Substantial but lacks some of I, III: consensus of expert opinion in absence of evidence for I & II)

Initial Exam History

  • Ocular symptoms (decreased vision, epiphora, symptoms of irritation) (A:III)
  • Duration of lagophthalmos (6 months) (A:III)
  • Duration of leprosy (usually from date of diagnosis) (B:III)
  • Type of leprosy (A:III)
  • MDT treatment; what drugs and for how long (A:III)
  • History of leprosy reactions (B:III)

Initial Physical Exam

  • Visual acuity (A:III)
  • Eyelids and lid closure (A:III)
  • Corneal sensation (A:III)
  • Conjunctiva (A:III)
  • Sclera (A:III)
  • Pupil (A:III)
  • Nasolacrimal apparatus (A:III)
    • Slit lamp biomicroscopy
    • Corneal epithelial integrity (A:III)
    • Corneal nerve beading, stromal opacity (B:III)
    • Anterior chamber (A:III)
    • Iris atrophy (A:III)
    • Iris "pearls" (B:III)
    • Posterior synechiae (A:III)
    • Cataract (A:III)

Care Management

The main important conditions (cataract, lagophthalmos, anterior uveitis) are managed as for any patient, and people with leprosy should be integrated into the normal eye care service, specifically:

  • Cataract should be removed when it adversely affects patient's visual function (A:III)
  • IOL is not contraindicated as long as quality of surgery is good and eye is quiet (A:III)
  • Chronic lagophthalmos should be treated surgically if cornea is compromised or cosmesis is a problem, regardless of severity of lagophthalmos, by whatever procedure the surgeon does best (A:III)
  • Special considerations in a person afflicted with leprosy include:
    • New onset lagophthalmos (duration <6 months) should be treated with oral prednisolone 25-30 mg per day tapered over 6 months. (A:III)
    • Acute uveitis should be treated with intensive topical steroid; associated systemic leprosy reaction must be ruled out or treated if present with systemic steroid give dose) (A:III)

Patient Education

  • At the end of MDT all patients should be warned that lagophthalmos could develop and understand the risks associated with this. (A:III)
  • Patients with residual lagophthalmos must be told about the risk form exposure and specifically warned about development of red eye and decreased vision. (A:III)
  • Patients should understand risks to eye during reaction and given explicit instructions on where to report if reaction develops. (A:III)
  • All patients should be informed of significance of decreased vision and told to report this to case worker for referral to higher level. (A:III)

- compiled & published by Dr Dhaval Patel MD AIIMS