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Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 1995;93:49-60; discussion 60-4.

Peripheral corneal infiltrates associated with contact lens wear.

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  • 1University of Connecticut Health Center, Division of Ophthalmology, Farmington, USA.



A retrospective study was performed to review the clinical characteristics of peripheral corneal infiltrates in contact lens wearers.


The charts of all contact lens patients with peripheral corneal infiltrates 1.5 mm or less in size who presented to the office from 1987 to 1994 were reviewed.


The epidemiological and clinical characteristics of peripheral corneal infiltrates associated with contact lens wear were reviewed in 52 patients (64 infiltrates). Forty-four patients presented with a single infiltrate, while the remaining 8 patients had multiple infiltrates. While there was no predilection for a specific quadrant of the cornea, when a subgroup of patients who wore extended wear lenses was analyzed, 19 of the 40 infiltrates were located in the superior quadrant. Forty percent of the patients were wearing disposable extended wear contact lenses, 21% were wearing conventional extended wear lenses, 33% were wearing conventional or frequent replacement/disposable daily wear contact lenses and 6% were wearing rigid gas permeable lenses. The majority of patients had minimal conjunctival inflammation, an anterior stromal cellular reaction and minimal anterior chamber activity. A subgroup of 16 patients had corneal cultures of their infiltrates. In this group, 8 of the 16 had positive cultures. All patients had a resolution of the infiltrates without complications and the majority were refitted to daily wear soft or rigid contact lenses.


Peripheral corneal infiltrates in contact lens wearers appears to be more common in patients wearing extended wear soft contact lenses. While often considered "sterile" in the literature, a significant number have been shown to be culture-positive. The organisms that have been associated with peripheral infiltrates appear to be less "pathogenic" than those that have been reported to be associated with central corneal ulcer. However, it is probably advisable that patients with peripheral corneal ulcers secondary to contact lens wear should be initially treated with topical antibiotics.

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