Are you suffering from severe eye irritation following a recent bone marrow graft or stem cell transplant? If so, you may be experiencing a common complication of such procedures, known as ocular GVHD or graft vs. host disease. This condition is understandably worrying and confusing, but it can be treated with success. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about GVHD from Insight Complete Eye Care in Dallas.

What Is Graft vs. Host Disease?

Graft vs. host disease, commonly abbreviated as GVHD, is an immune system response to recently grafted or transplanted donor tissue. It typically follows a bone marrow transplant, stem cell transplant, cord blood transplant or similar procedure to add immune-boosting tissues to the body. This “donor immune system” then attacks healthy tissues as if they were foreign bodies. In ocular GVHD, the eyes are the subject of the attack.

What Are the Symptoms of Ocular GVHD?

People with ocular GVHD often suffer from mild to severe dry eye. Many of these cases involve meibomian gland dysfunction, in which the oil-producing glands of the eyelids stop contributing oil to the tear film. Chronic dry eye may then lead to corneal damage. Conjunctivitis is another common issue in ocular GVHD. The combination of these two issues may cause your eyes to look red and feel gritty, itchy or painful. You may also suffer from blurred vision.

How Does Your Dallas Optometrist Diagnose Ocular GVHD?

Any Dallas optometrist on our team can diagnose ocular GVHS by administering a comprehensive eye exam. This exam allows your doctor to rule out other possible causes for your symptoms. We will also evaluate the severity of your dry eye issues and any complications that may have resulted from it.

How Is Ocular GVHD Treated?

The primary goal in treating ocular GVHD is to manage the dry eye symptoms. Topical treatments include preservative-free artificial tears, autologous serum and topical immunosuppressants, like Cyclosporine 0.5%. In moderate-severe cases, scleral contact lenses can provide relief of symptoms. These lenses vault over the cornea and sit on the white of the eye. This configuration allows them to act as a fluid reservoir, helping to keep your eyes nourished, hydrated, and comfortable.

Our Dallas Optometry Center Has Your Answers

Ocular graft vs. host disease can be extremely painful and debilitating, but you’ll find relief at our Dallas optometry clinic. Call Insight Complete Eye Care at (214) 739-8611 to schedule your appointment today!