Ocular manifestations of graft-versus-host disease

Amr Nassar, Khalid F. Tabbara, Mahmoud Aljurf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) has evolved over the past two decades to become the standard of care for hematologic and lymphoid malignancies. Major ocular complications after allogeneic HSCT have been increasing in number and severity. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a major cause of ocular morbidity after allogeneic HSCT. The main objective of this review is to elucidate the ocular complications in patients developing GVHD following HSCT. Ocular complications secondary to GVHD are common and include dry eye syndrome, acquisition of ocular allergy from donors with allergic disorders. Eyelid changes may occur in GVHD leading to scleroderma-like changes. Patients may develop poliosis, madarosis, vitiligo, lagophthalmos, and entropion. The cornea may show filamentary keratitis, superficial punctate keratitis, corneal ulcers, and peripheral corneal melting which may lead to perforation in severe cases. Scleritis may also occur which can be anterior or posterior. Keratoconjunctivis sicca appears to be the most common presentation of GVHD. The lacrimal glands may be involved with mononuclear cell infiltration of both the major and accessory lacrimal glands and decrease in tear production. Severe dry eye syndrome in patients with GVHD may develop conjunctival scarring, keratinization, and cicatrization of the conjunctiva.Therapy of GVHD includes systemic immunosuppression and local therapy. Surgical treatment in refractory cases includes surgical intervention to improve the manifestation of GVHD of the eye. This may include tarsorrhapy, prose lenses, punctal occlusions and corneal transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
JournalSaudi Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Ocular
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ocular manifestations of graft-versus-host disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this