Treatment of Non-Infectious Corneal Injury: Review of Diagnostic Agents, Therapeutic Medications, and Future Targets

Deanna H. Dang, Kamran M. Riaz, Dimitrios Karamichos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Corneal injuries can occur secondary to traumatic, chemical, inflammatory, metabolic, autoimmune, and iatrogenic causes. Ocular infection may frequently occur concurrent to corneal injury; however, antimicrobial agents are excluded from this present review. While practitioners may primarily rely on clinical examination techniques to assess these injuries, several pharmacological agents, such as fluorescein, lissamine green, and rose bengal, can be used to formulate a diagnosis and develop effective treatment strategies. Practitioners may choose from several analgesic medications to help with patient comfort without risking further injury or delaying ocular healing. Atropine, cyclopentolate, scopolamine, and homatropine are among the most frequently used medications for this purpose. Additional topical analgesic agents may be used judiciously to augment patient comfort to facilitate diagnosis. Steroidal anti-inflammatory agents are frequently used as part of the therapeutic regimen. A variety of commonly used agents, including prednisolone acetate, loteprednol, difluprednate, dexamethasone, fluorometholone, and methylprednisolone are discussed. While these medications are effective for controlling ocular inflammation, side effects, such as elevated intraocular pressure and cataract formation, must be monitored by clinicians. Non-steroidal medications, such as ketorolac, bromfenac, nepafenac, and diclofenac, are additionally used for their efficacy in controlling ocular inflammation without incurring side effects seen with steroids. However, these agents have their own respective side effects, warranting close monitoring by clinicians. Additionally, ophthalmologists routinely employ several agents in an off-label manner for supplementary control of inflammation and treatment of corneal injuries. Patients with corneal injuries not infrequently have significant ocular surface disease, either as a concurrent pathology or as an exacerbation of previously existing disease. Several agents used in the management of ocular surface disease have also been found to be useful as part of the therapeutic armamentarium for treatment of corneal injuries. For example, several antibiotics, such as doxycycline and macrolides, have been used for their anti-inflammatory effects on specific cytokines that are upregulated during acute injuries. There has been a recent wave of interest in amniotic membrane therapies (AMTs), including topical, cryopreserved and dehydrated variants. AMT is particularly effective in ocular injuries with violation of corneal surface integrity due to its ability to promote re-epithelialization of the corneal epithelium. Blood-based therapies, including autologous serum tears, plasma-enriched growth factor eyedrops and autologous blood drops, have additionally been explored in small case series for effectiveness in challenging and recalcitrant cases. Protection of the ocular surface is also a vital component in the treatment of corneal injuries. Temporary protective methods, such as bandage contact lenses and mechanical closure of the eyelids (tarsorrhaphy) can be particularly helpful in selective cases. Glue therapies, including biologic and non-biologic variants, can also be used in cases of severe injury and risk of corneal perforation. Finally, there are a variety of recently introduced and in-development agents that may be used as adjuvant therapies in challenging patient populations. Neurotrophic corneal disease may occur as a result of severe or chronic injury. In such cases, recombinant human nerve growth factor (cenegermin), topical insulin, and several other novel agents may be an alternate and effective option for clinicians to consider.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-167
Number of pages23
JournalDrugs
Volume82
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

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