The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Study: HCV and dry eye

Hmph. Dunno what I'm supposed to conclude here. (Don't let anybody cry on your shoulder?)

Hepatitis C and ocular surface disease.

Jacobi C, Wenkel H, Jacobi A, Korn K, Cursiefen C, Kruse FE.
Am J Ophthalmol. 2007 Nov;144(5):705-711. Epub 2007 Sep 17.Click here to read

PURPOSE: To assess the frequency of changes in the ocular surface and the presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in tear samples of patients with chronic HCV infection. DESIGN: Prospective, nonrandomized, clinical, interdisciplinary, single-center study. METHODS: Seventy-one patients with previously untreated chronic HCV infection and a control group consisting of 66 patients without systemic HCV infection were enrolled in the trial. The patients with HCV infection were screened for ocular symptoms, visual acuity, and ocular changes. Tear production was measured by the Jones test. Conjunctival impression cytologic analysis was performed. The presence of HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) in tear and blood samples was determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: On examination, systemic HCV infection was present for a median of 30 months. Fifty percent of all HCV patients showed a decrease in tear production measured by the Jones test. Apart from epithelial changes related to dry eye syndrome in 12 patients, two patients presented mild peripheral corneal thinning. Polymerase chain reaction analysis detected HCV RNA in five (10%) of 52 tear samples. HCV RNA levels in tear samples (mean, 1.0 x 10(4) copies/ml) were considerably lower than in blood samples (mean, 5.3 x 10(5) copies/ml). CONCLUSIONS: Dry eye syndrome is the most frequently observed ocular feature in HCV infection. Patients with HCV infection (age range, 21 to 60 years) compared with the controls had a significant lower tear production (P = .05). The presence of HCV RNA in 10% of tear samples emphasizes the potential risk of viral transmission through tears.