A study conducted by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) may give hope to those suffering from severe cases of bacterial corneal ulcers, which have the potential to lead to blindness if untreated.
Complications from contact lens use are the most common culprit in corneal ulcers in the United States.
In the paper published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, researchers found that a significant vision improvement the equivalent of one or two lines on an eye chart can be achieved in people with corneal ulcers following treatment with steroids.
Dr Nisha Acharya, co-author of the report and the associate professor and director at the Uveitis Service in the UCSF Department of Ophthalmology, said that the findings of the study are "very significant".
Although secondary to the study"s original purpose, Dr Acharya said the results in severe cases were identified early on, so "we didn"t start doing all of these analyses after the fact. It was of interest. So I think there is something there."
"It"s important to note that in the worst ulcer group, not only do we not find a safety problem, we actually found that steroids resulted in a benefit in vision," Acharya said. "So I think that is really reassuring because those were the people with whom we were most scared to use steroids."
The researchers studied 500 participants from the US and India in the Steroids for Corneal Ulcers Trial (SCUT), with half of the participants receiving the treatment and the other half given placebos.
After three months, there was no increase in cornea perforations in the patients receiving the steroid treatment, which alerted the researchers to the fact that such therapies do not advance the severity of the ulcers.
"It makes us feel like we"re moving towards an evidence-based paradigm of care for corneal ulcers rather than a trial and error sort of approach," Dr Acharya added.
by Alexa Kaczka