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Stevens-Johnson Syndrome


Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a disorder that causes painful blisters and lesions on the skin and mucous membranes and can cause severe eye problems. The most common cause of SJS is an adverse allergic drug reaction. Almost any drug can result in SJS, but sulfa drugs are a particularly common cause. It is more common in children and younger adults, but can develop at any age. Typical ocular problems associated with SJS can include conjunctivitis, scarring of the conjunctiva, inflammation inside the eye (iritis), corneal blisters and perforation, which can potentially lead to permanent vision loss.  


Diagnosis is made on the clinical grounds by an expert ophthalmologist or dermatologist. A skin biopsy may be performed by a dermatologist in the acute phase of the disease for exact diagnosis.


Management of SJS is mainly supportive. Patients are admitted in the burn units during the acute phase. The therapy includes ocular lubrication with artificial tears and ointments and frequent surveillance of ocular infections. Corneal transplants, limbal stem cell transplantations or artificial corneal procedures maybe considered if advised by an ophthalmologist. 

At Wilmer, SJS is treated by the Ocular Surface Diseases and Dry Eye Clinic, which has a specialized contact lens service for patients with severe dry eye condition and eyelid/eyelash problems.

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