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Subspecialties Cornea / Ocular Surface, Pediatric, Health Economics and Policy

VKC: Relief and Hope

At a Glance

  • Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is a relatively rare condition affecting mostly children and adolescents, and it is often misdiagnosed
  •  Treatment options for severe VKC were previously limited, with no approved drugs available to deal with the chronic disease
  • Verkazia is a steroid sparing agent that has recently been approved for use in moderate to severe VKC
  • Children suffering from VKC and their carers require counselling to better understand their condition and how to treat effectively.

Most patients with VKC have mild symptoms such as red eye and itchiness; however, we see patients who have not responded to simple treatments by their primary care practioners, or general ophthalmologists. We often find patients presenting to the eye clinic with disabling symptoms and potentially sight-threatening sequelae.Distressingly, most VKC patients are young children or adolescents; the impact of this orphan disease therefore extends into educational and developmental issues. This situation is exacerbated by the diagnostic challenges associated with VKC. Firstly, it’s relatively uncommon, so GPs and pediatricians don’t always think of it when they see a patient. Secondly, its symptoms – red, irritated eyes and a watery discharge – can be confused with blepharoconjunctivitis or even infective conjunctivitis. Indeed, the more subtle features of VKC, such as a papillary rather than a follicular presentation, or itchiness as opposed to foreign body sensation, are easy to miss – particularly given that VKC patients often have a generalized atopic background, including hay fever and asthma. Consequently, many VKC patients end up misdiagnosed with blepharitis.

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About the Author

Abdul-Jabbar Ghauri

Consultant Ophthalmologist at The Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

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