What is Ocular Pemphigoid?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Ocular pemphigoid is an autoimmune condition where the conjunctiva and cornea go through repeated rounds of inflammation, leading to scarring and vision problems. It is a form of cicatricial pemphigoid, a condition associated with blistering of the mucus membranes. People with ocular pemphigoid may also have problems elsewhere in the body, including around the mouth and genitals. Treatments are available, but the condition cannot be cured.

There appear to be some genetic links with the development of cicatricial pemphigoid. Like other autoimmune conditions, it involves an overaggressive response from the immune system where the body starts to attack itself. Patients with ocular pemphigoid usually experience conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the mucus membranes around the eye, first. The inflammation may initially resolve before flaring up again, and over time, scarring starts to develop. One or both eyes can be involved.

As the condition continues, it will also involve the cornea. People with particularly bad forms can experience so much corneal scarring that the eye is covered in a white film and the patient's vision is severely impaired or entirely absent. Treatment for ocular pemphigoid involves the administration of anti-inflammatory medications and immune suppressants to try and reduce the severity of the inflammation and to keep the scarring to a minimum.


Many people with this condition also have dry eyes. Dry eye therapy like artificial tears can help patients feel more comfortable and reduce the risk of further vision loss. Patients may also need pain management for active inflammations, when irritated blisters form. It is also important to refrain from scratching or rubbing the eyes, even when they are very painful or itchy, and some patients wear eye patches or night guards when they sleep so they don't injure their eyes while sleeping.

Surgery can be an option for managing ocular pemphigoid in some patients. Inflammation is a risk of surgery, however, and thus care needs to be taken to avoid making the condition worse. In patients with outbreaks of inflammation in other areas of the body, options like soothing creams and steroid injections may be available to manage the inflammation and keep the patient's pain levels low. People with a family history of cicatricial pemphigoid should alert their doctors, especially when seeking treatments for blistering rashes or eye inflammations, as this will allow a doctor to diagnose the condition more quickly if it is the underlying cause, allowing for more immediate and appropriate treatment.



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