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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33775. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033775. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

A new method to predict the epidemiology of fungal keratitis by monitoring the sales distribution of antifungal eye drops in Brazil.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.



Fungi are a major cause of keratitis, although few medications are licensed for their treatment. The aim of this study is to observe the variation in commercialisation of antifungal eye drops, and to predict the seasonal distribution of fungal keratitis in Brazil.


Data from a retrospective study of antifungal eye drops sales from the only pharmaceutical ophthalmologic laboratory, authorized to dispense them in Brazil (Opthalmos) were gathered. These data were correlated with geographic and seasonal distribution of fungal keratitis in Brazil between July 2002 and June 2008.


A total of 26,087 antifungal eye drop units were sold, with a mean of 2.3 per patient. There was significant variation in antifungal sales during the year (p<0.01). A linear regression model displayed a significant association between reduced relative humidity and antifungal drug sales (R2 = 0.17,p<0.01).


Antifungal eye drops sales suggest that there is a seasonal distribution of fungal keratitis. A possible interpretation is that the third quarter of the year (a period when the climate is drier), when agricultural activity is more intense in Brazil, suggests a correlation with a higher incidence of fungal keratitis. A similar model could be applied to other diseases, that are managed with unique, or few, and monitorable medications to predict epidemiological aspects.

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