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Optom Vis Sci. 2003 Jun;80(6):420-30.

Management of filamentary keratitis associated with aqueous-deficient dry eye.

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Centre for Eye Research, Queensland University of Technology, O Blocj, QUT Kelvin Grove, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove 4059, Australia.



To review the incidence, underlying pathophysiology, and clinical features of filamentary keratitis and to identify evidence-based best-practice strategies for managing filamentary keratitis.


A comprehensive review of published literature was undertaken. Recommendations for best-practice management strategies were based on the available evidence. Three cases are presented to illustrate the clinical findings and management of patients with chronic filamentary keratitis.


Although the evidence base is limited by the absence of well-designed studies, current evidence indicates the following: (1) Aqueous-deficient dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is the most common ocular condition associated with filamentary keratitis. (2) Current best-practice management of filamentary keratitis involves treating the underlying dry eye and specific treatments for the corneal filaments. Proposed treatments include nonpreserved lubricants, topical steroidal and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and punctal plugs for aqueous-deficient dry eye as well as mechanical removal of filaments, hypertonic saline, mucolytic agents, and bandage contact lenses for the filaments. (3) Filamentary keratitis can be induced or exacerbated by contact lens wear and ocular surgical procedures such as cataract surgery and corneal graft surgery. Pre- and postoperative ocular surface management strategies should be considered in the surgical planning of patients with, or who are susceptible to, filamentary keratitis. Filamentary keratitis can also be induced and/or exacerbated by chronic use of ocular and/or systemic medications, and alternate medications or additional measures to manage the tear film and ocular surface may be required in these cases.


Filamentary keratitis can be a chronic, recurrent, and debilitating condition. With a systemic approach to diagnosis and management, the condition can be effectively controlled and the incidence and severity of recurrences minimized.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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