Effect of epidermal growth factor ointment on persistent epithelial defects of the cornea.
Summary: This study evaluated the effect of epidermal growth factor (a protein found on the surface of cells to which epidermal growth factor binds; EGF) ointment on persistent epithelial defects of the cornea (PEDs).
Conclusion: Epidermal growth factor (a protein found on the surface of cells to which epidermal growth factor binds) ointment could reduce symptoms and promote corneal epithelialization (healing by the growth of epithelium) of refractory (resistant to treatment) persistent epithelial defects of the cornea. It may be well-tolerated and a potentially beneficial addition to the management of these defects.
Background: Healthy corneal epithelium acts as a barrier against damage to the deeper structures in the eye. Failure in the mechanisms of corneal epithelization can lead to persistent epithelial defects of the cornea (PEDs) and can compromise its function. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) promotes the proliferation, migration, and differentiation of epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts during wound healing and may be beneficial in treating patients with PEDs. We, therefore, investigated the effect of EGF ointment on patients with PEDs.
Methods: Fifteen patients with PEDs refractory to conventional treatment were treated twice a day with EGF ointment. Patient demographics and comorbidities were noted. The epithelial healing time was determined along with the primary outcome measures in the areas of the epithelial defects, visual acuity, visual analog scale (VAS) scores, and esthesiometer scores 1 month and 2 months after treatment.
Results: Five eyes of herpetic keratitis (33.3%), 3 eyes of dry eye disease (20.0%), 3 eyes of bacterial keratitis (20.0%), 2 eyes of limbal stem cell deficiency (13.3%), 1 eye of diabetic neurotrophic keratitis (6.7%), and 1 eye of filamentary keratitis (6.7%) were associated with PEDs, respectively. Two months following treatment with EGF ointment, there was a reduction in the area of the epithelial defects (5.7 ± 3.9 to 0.1 ± 0.3 mm2) as well as a significant improvement in best-corrected visual acuity (0.9 ± 0.8 to 0.6 ± 0.5 LogMAR) and VAS scores (4.5 ± 1.2 to 2.5 ± 0.7) in 12 eyes (80%). Among these cases, the mean epithelial healing time was 5.5 ± 1.8 weeks. Amniotic membrane transplantation was performed on the remaining 3 (20.0%) patients that did not respond to EGF treatment.
Conclusions: EGF ointment could reduce symptoms and promotes corneal epithelialization of refractory PEDs. It may, therefore, be well-tolerated and a potentially beneficial addition in the management of refractory PEDs.