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Thygeson Superficial Punctate Keratitis Treatment & Management

  • Author: Robert S Duszak, OD, FAAO; Chief Editor: Hampton Roy, Sr, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 13, 2014

Medical Care

Many therapies for TSPK have been tried and proven unsuccessful over the years.

Antibiotics have been shown to be an ineffective treatment method.[2]

Antivirals have had mixed results; mild improvements have been reported with trifluridine, but it has also been reported to cause the disease to disappear more slowly than when treated with corticosteroids alone.[18] In addition, there have been multiple observations that idoxuridine causes persistent subepithelial ghost opacities and scarring in individuals with TSPK; therefore, it is contraindicated.[2, 10, 19]

A few successful therapies for TSPK do exist.

Topical lubricants have been shown to be an effective treatment method for relieving clinical symptoms.[20]

Topical corticosteroids are now considered to be the mainstream treatment of TSPK, as they have been shown to be very successful in managing both clinical signs and symptoms; however, there is speculation that the natural course of the disease is prolonged secondary to the introduction of these medications.[2, 5] In addition, topical cyclosporine has been reported to be effective when used as a first-line treatment of patients with TSPK, with the advantage of fewer adverse effects compared with corticosteroids.[12, 21, 22]

Therapeutic soft contact lenses used on an extended-wear basis also offer an alternative treatment, especially for severe cases, although potential complications (eg, microbial keratitis) may exist.[21, 23] Contact lenses improve symptoms by covering the elevated corneal lesions and nerves, which are constantly in friction with the conjunctiva during blinking.[2, 24]

Nagra et al have had overwhelming success with topical corticosteroids, and they suggest an initial management of TSPK with fluorometholone 0.1% (FML 0.1%) or a similar low-dose steroid, followed by the use of stronger steroids, and then extended-wear contact lenses or topical cyclosporine in a stepwise approach.[5] They reinforce an important point that steroids must be tapered gradually over the course of months in many patients, with some patients requiring longer term, infrequent, but regular use (ie, weekly, biweekly). Since therapy is aimed at providing patients with comfort, clinicians should be aware that the minimum strength and dosage of topical anti-inflammatory medications necessary to control symptoms should be prescribed.[17]


Surgical Care

There are a few reports of remission and recurrence following laser refractive surgery.[25, 26, 27, 28]

Fite and Chodosh reported that the use of photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) prevented the recurrence of TSPK in the area of the excimer laser treatment.[28]

Seo et al suggested that the recurrence rate of TSPK following refractive laser procedures is lower with PRK than with laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).[26]

Other reports have suggested that both PRK and laser subepithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) do not prevent the recurrence of TSPK, and even similar attempts of debridement of the corneal epithelium are insufficient at alleviating the course of inflammation in these patients.[2, 26]



A consultation with a cornea specialist or an anterior segment specialist may be warranted if the diagnosis and the management of a patient with TSPK are confounding or if a patient is not responding to treatment.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Robert S Duszak, OD, FAAO Attending Physician, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Consulting Staff, Nemours Health Clinic, Mayfair Eye Associates; Adjunct Clinical Faculty, Eye Institute of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry

Robert S Duszak, OD, FAAO is a member of the following medical societies: American Geriatrics Society, American Academy of Optometry, American Optometric Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD Clinical Professor of Health Sciences, Department of Ophthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, American Glaucoma Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Christopher J Rapuano, MD Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University; Director of the Cornea Service, Co-Director of Refractive Surgery Department, Wills Eye Hospital

Christopher J Rapuano, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Ophthalmological Society, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, International Society of Refractive Surgery, Cornea Society, Eye Bank Association of America

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Cornea Society, Allergan, Bausch & Lomb, Bio-Tissue, Shire, TearScience, TearLab<br/>Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Allergan, Bausch & Lomb, Bio-Tissue, TearScience.

Chief Editor

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Surgeons, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Richard W Allinson, MD Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center; Senior Staff Ophthalmologist, Scott and White Clinic

Richard W Allinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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The cornea of a 33-year-old African American man with active Thygeson superficial punctate keratitis (TSPK).
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