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Eye and Vision Care

Vision and Stevens Johnson Syndrome Aftermath

02/12/2010

Question:

My daughter at age 27 was diagnosed with Stevens Johnsons. She spent 3 weeks on life support and the doctors said it was a miracle she survived. Her eyes were greatly affected. Her vision is good and she is currently wearing protective contact lenses from the Boston Sight Clinic. She does not have moisture in her eyes. Her tear ducts were closed by scar tissue. She must constantly use eye drops. The worst part is that her eye lash pores ended up inside her eye socket. When the lashes inside her eye socket grow, she must pluck them out or have it done by a doctor. She is almost constantly in pain. She is mother and full time teacher. Is there any kind of surgery or treatment that can help her condition and quality of life?

Answer:

I understand her situation. Stevens-Johnsons syndrome is a terrible disease that effects many organs in the body; and the extreme dryness in the eyes causes constant pain, red eyes, and poor vision.

I suggest you ask her current eye doctor about an eyelid surgical procedure called a tarsorrhaphy (tar-SOR-a-fee). This procedure is performed by an ophthalmologist with special training in oculoplastics, and is only done in extreme cases such as your daughter's. The purpose of this surgery is to help the patient retain what few artificial tears she has available and spread them over a smaller area; but the downside of this procedure is that it results in a poor cosmetic appearance (and patients usually wear dark glasses to hide their narrowed and unusual-looking eyelids after the surgery). If it does not work, it can be reversed.

I'm sorry I cannot offer any better solution for such a vexing eye problem. 

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Response by:

Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University