Efficacy of medical treatments for vernal keratoconjunctivitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Inès Roumeau, Adrien Coutu, Valentin Navel*, Bruno Pereira, Julien Baker, Frédéric Chiambaretta, Dominique Bremond-Gignac, Frédéric Dutheil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is a severe type of allergic conjunctivitis for which treatment strategies are still under debate. Objectives: This study sought to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy of medical treatments for VKC. Methods: The PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, and ScienceDirect databases were searched to assess the efficacy of treatments for VKC. Random-effect meta-analyses on changes in clinical scores of symptoms and signs between baseline and after treatment, stratified on treatment classes, were computed. Meta-regressions were searched for potential influencing parameters. Results: Included were 45 studies (27 randomized controlled trials and 18 prospective cohort studies), 1749 patients (78% were men; mean age, 11.2 years), and 12 different treatment classes. Mast cell stabilizers (MCSs; usually considered as first-line therapy), cyclosporine, and tacrolimus were the most studied drugs (in three-quarters of studies). Overall, all clinical scores improved. Total symptom and sign score decreased for MCSs (effect size, −3.19; 95% CI, –4.26 to −2.13), cyclosporine (effect size, −2.06; 95% CI, −2.72 to −1.40), and tacrolimus (effect size, −2.39; 95% CI, −3.36 to −1.43). No significant differences were shown depending on treatment classes, concentration, age, sex, baseline activity scores, and atopy. Sensitivity analyses demonstrated similar results. Conclusions: This study confirms the efficacy of MCSs in the treatment of VKC. Efficacy of cyclosporine and tacrolimus did not differ, suggesting that tacrolimus is a good alternative to cyclosporine for severe cases of VKC. Further studies are needed to compare other drugs and their precise place in treatment strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)822-834
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
Early online date2 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

User-Defined Keywords

  • atopy
  • Chronic disease
  • immunomodulators
  • inflammation
  • pediatrics
  • topical drugs


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