Surgical management of anterior chamber epithelial cysts

Julia A. Haller, Walter J. Stark, Amr Azab, Robert W. Thomsen, John D. Gottsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To review management strategies for treatment of anterior chamber epithelial cysts. Design: Retrospective review of consecutive interventional case series. Methods: Charts of patients treated for epithelial ingrowth over a 10-year period by a single surgeon were reviewed. Cases of anterior chamber epithelial cysts were identified and recorded, including details of ocular history, preoperative and postoperative acuity, intraocular pressure (IOP), and ocular examination, type of surgical intervention, and details of further procedures performed. Results: Seven eyes with epithelial cysts were identified. Patient age ranged from 1.5 to 53 years at presentation. Four patients were children. In four eyes, cysts were secondary to trauma, one case was presumably congenital, one case developed after corneal perforation in an eye with Terrien's marginal degeneration, and one case developed after penetrating keratoplasty (PK). Three eyes were treated with vitrectomy, en bloc resection of the cyst and associated tissue, fluid-air exchange and cryotherapy. The last four eyes were treated with a new conservative strategy of cyst aspiration (three cases) or local excision (one keratin "pearl" cyst), and endolaser photocoagulation of the collapsed cyst wall/base. All epithelial tissue was successfully eradicated by clinical criteria; one case required repeat excision (follow-up, 9 to 78 months, mean 45). Two eyes required later surgery for elevated IOP, two for cataract extraction and one for repeat PK. Final visual acuity ranged from 20/20 to hand motions, depending on associated ocular damage. Best-corrected visual results were obtained in the more conservatively managed eyes. Conclusions: Anterior chamber epithelial cysts can be managed conservatively in selected cases with good results. This strategy may be particularly useful in children's eyes, where preservation of the lens, iris, and other structures may facilitate amblyopia management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-313
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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