What is GVHD- graft-vs-host-disease?

Ocular Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) occurs in patients who have had allogeneic hematological stem cell transplantation, which is used to suppress certain diseases and restore immune function. The symptoms can occur in either acute or chronic forms of GVHD, although it is more common in the chronic form, and as many as 40-90% of patients with chronic GVHD will develop ocular symptoms.

Risk Factors

Patients who have undergone allogenic stem cell transplantation are at risk for developing GVHD.

Symptoms

  • Moderate to severe blurred vision that cannot be corrected with glasses
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Gritty or painful eyes
  • Tired eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dry eyes
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Marginal keratitis (inflammation of the peripheral cornea)
  • Anterior uveitis (inflammation of the middle layers of the eye)
  • Neovascularization (formation of new blood vessels)

Treatment

Treatment options for GVHD are similar to those for severe dry eye disease. These may include scleral contact lenses to correct blurry or distorted vision and topical medications and artificial tears. In any case, Insight Complete Eye Care will work closely with your oncologist to ensure the best care and outcome so you can see clearly and comfortably.

Typically, as patients recover from GVHD, scleral contact lenses are no longer necessary after about 18 months and can be replaced with glasses or other conventional contact lenses. In some cases, however, patients will continue to require scleral contact lenses to prevent dry eyes and provide excellent vision.

Please feel free to call or text our office at (214) 739-8611 and speak to a member of our staff to answer any questions you may have. An office consultation is the best place to start to determine if you are a good candidate for this remarkable treatment.