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Indian J Ophthalmol. 2003 Jun;51(2):155-9.

Ocular complications in incident relapsed borderline lepromatous and lepromatous leprosy patients in south India.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Center, Karigiri, Vellore District, Tamil Nadu-632 106, India.



To determine the magnitude of ocular complications that present in incident cases of relapsed borderline lepromatous (BL) and lepromatous leprosy (LL) patients.


From 1991 to 1997, all new BL and LL patients who had relapsed from an earlier disease, detected by active case finding in the geographically defined area of Gudiyattam taluk, were invited for ocular examination after their leprosy status was confirmed clinically and histopathologically.


Sixty relapsed lepromatous patients, 45 male and 15 females, were examined. Fifty-two patients had relapsed after receiving only dapsone mono-therapy, 4 after receiving paucibacillary multi-drug therapy (PB-MDT) preceded by dapsone mono-therapy and 4 after only PB-MDT. Three (5%) patients had lagophthalmos, 1 (1.6%) patients each had ectropion and trichiasis, 32 (53%) patients had impaired corneal sensation in both eyes, 2 (3.3%) patients each had corneal opacity (associated with reduced vision), corneal nerve beading, punctate keratitis, keratic precipitates, and iris atrophy, 4 (6.6%) patients had cataract associated with decreased vision, 1 (1.6%) patient had blocked naso-lacrimal duct and 13 (21.7%) patients had pterygium. Seven (12%) patients had a visual acuity of 6/18 or less, 4 (6.7%) patients had 6/60 or less and one patients had vision below 3/60. General ocular complications rather than leprosy-related ocular complications were responsible for reduced vision. Lagophthalmos was associated with increased duration of the disease (P = 0.009), Grade II deformity (P = 0.001), punctate keratitis (P < 0.001) and cataract (P < 0.001). Beaded corneal nerves were associated with lepromatous leprosy (P < 0.001) and high mycobacterial infection (P = 0.05). Patients whose initial disease was categorised as BL and LL had greater impairment of vision (P = 0.037), more iris atrophy (P = 0.013), increased keratic precipitates (P = 0.013) and more corneal nerve beading (P = 0.013), when compared with the group comprising Tuberculoid-tuberculoid (TT), Borderline-tuberculoid (BT) and Intermediate (IND).


This first report on ocular complications in relapsed lepromatous patients demonstrates that general and leprosy-related ocular complications occur in these patients. However, they are not in excess of those reported in other leprosy groups. Borderline and lepromatous leprosy patients tend to have had more ocular complications than patients with tuberculoid leprosy.

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