Expert consensus on the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of neurotrophic keratopathy. BMC Ophthalmol 2021;21(1):327.Abstract.
BACKGROUND: Neurotrophic keratopathy (NK) is a relatively uncommon, underdiagnosed degenerative corneal disease that is caused by damage to the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve by conditions such as herpes simplex or zoster keratitis, intracranial space-occupying lesions, diabetes, or neurosurgical procedures. Over time, epithelial breakdown, corneal ulceration, corneal melting (thinning), perforation, and loss of vision may occur. The best opportunity to reverse ocular surface damage is in the earliest stage of NK. However, patients typically experience few symptoms and diagnosis is often delayed. Increased awareness of the causes of NK, consensus on when and how to screen for NK, and recommendations for how to treat NK are needed. METHODS: An 11-member expert panel used a validated methodology (a RAND/UCLA modified Delphi panel) to develop consensus on when to screen for and how best to diagnose and treat NK. Clinicians reviewed literature on the diagnosis and management of NK then rated a detailed set of 735 scenarios. In 646 scenarios, panelists rated whether a test of corneal sensitivity was warranted; in 20 scenarios, they considered the adequacy of specific tests and examinations to diagnose and stage NK; and in 69 scenarios, they rated the appropriateness of treatments for NK. Panelist ratings were used to develop clinical recommendations. RESULTS: There was agreement on 94% of scenarios. Based on this consensus, we present distinct circumstances when we strongly recommend or may consider a test for corneal sensitivity. We also present recommendations on the diagnostic tests to be performed in patients in whom NK is suspected and treatment options for NK. CONCLUSIONS: These expert recommendations should be validated with clinical data. The recommendations represent the consensus of experts, are informed by published literature and experience, and may improve outcomes by helping improve diagnosis and treatment of patients with NK.