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Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis

May also be called: AKC

Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is an inflammation of the eyelids, conjunctiva (clear layer over the white part of our eye and the inside of our eyelids), and cornea (clear tissue in front of the iris).

Condition Information

Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is an inflammation of the eyelids, conjunctiva (clear layer over the white part of our eye and the inside of our eyelids), and cornea (clear tissue in front of the iris).

Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is an inflammation of the eyelids, conjunctiva (clear layer over the white part of our eye and the inside of our eyelids), and cornea (clear tissue in front of the iris). AKC usually develops in the late teens and early adulthood.1

The symptoms of AKC include:

  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision2
  • Burning and itchy eyes
  • Swollen, eczematous eyelids5, 7
  • Tearing1

AKC is genetic, but is usually associated with atopic disease, including atopic dermatitis, eczema, asthma, hay fever, and food and environmental allergies, including a family history of allergies.1, 2 Atopy consists of a heightened immune response to allergens.1

Risk factors:

  • Food and environmental allergies at a young age
  • Increased exposure to pollutants (IE. Living in a densely populated city)
  • Tobacco spoke
  • Antibiotic use
  • Obesity2

Ophthalmic examination: by an eye doctor, whereas they will also consider the patient’s symptoms and medical history in the diagnosis.

Serum IgE testing: cannot specifically diagnose AKC, but can determine the presence of an atopic condition

Brush cytology: sample taken from the inside of the eyelid with a brush (looks like a mascara wand), determines density of inflammatory cells2

Confocal scanning laser microscopy: determines density of inflammatory cells; less invasive vs. brush cytology2

Anti-histamines: topical eye drops (IE. Zaditor or Alaway, relieves itchiness) and oral medication

Mast cell stabilizers: topical eye drops (IE. Pataday, relieves itchiness)

Steroids: topical eye drops (moderate cases) or oral medication (severe cases)2

Tacrolimus or Cyclosporine: topical eye drop, immunosuppressant that decreases inflammation.1,3,4

Cold compresses can be used as relief when a patient feels the urge to itch their eyes. Consistent eye itching and rubbing can cause thinning of the cornea, leading to keratoconus (corneal disease caused by the steepening and thinning of the cornea).

AKC can be quite debilitating for some patients. AKC increases the risk of developing corneal erosions and ulcers, which can cause significantly decreased vision. In severe cases, significant ocular pain, scarring, and blindness can occur. Cataracts (opacification of the lens inside the eye) are more common in patients with AKC, as well.7 When diagnosed, it is important to follow management protocol by your eye doctor to prevent worsening of the condition. This condition can persist for many years, therefore it is recommended to consult an eye doctor when new or worsening symptoms occur.6

The content provided on this page is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice and consultation. Please consult your eye care or health care provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Click here for our full legal disclaimer.

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Macular Degeneration Clinical Trial Participant

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