How is peripheral ulcerative keratitis (PUK) treated?

Updated: Jun 11, 2019
  • Author: Ellen N Yu-Keh, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Local treatment of peripheral ulcerative keratitis (PUK) is aimed at preventing or reducing corneal damage. Systemic therapy is aimed at controlling the underlying disease. A goal is reepithelialization of the epithelial defect to halt progressive corneal ulceration.

Surgical care may be combined with adjunctive local therapy with topical 1% medroxyprogesterone (which inhibits collagenase synthesis) or topical 20% N -acetylcysteine (a competitive inhibitor of collagenase). Lubricating drops, gels, and ointments and antibiotic drops or ointments can be helpful in aiding reepithelialization.

Topical steroid use is not recommended and should be used with caution in the treatment of patients with PUK associated with systemic disease because it may aggravate corneal melt due to collagen synthesis inhibition. However, some physicians would recommend its use only if the extent of corneal involvement is less than two quadrants and/or if stromal thickness is more than 50%. [31]

Systemic collagenase inhibitors (tetracycline 250-mg tab qid or doxycycline 100-mg tab bid) may help slow the progression.

Some physicians recommend oral vitamin C given at 500 mg four times a day to facilitate corneal healing. [31]

There is limited experience in the use of topical cyclosporine [32] and topical tacrolimus. [33] Topical cyclosporine combined with lamellar keratoplasty (see Surgical Care) was noted to improve the healing rate in Mooren ulcer. [34] However, an underlying systemic vasculitis is not addressed with this route of treatment.

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