Review Article

Understanding vernal keratoconjunctivitis in children

Hlupheka L. Sithole
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 79, No 1 | a533 | DOI: | © 2020 Hlupheka L. Sithole | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 September 2019 | Published: 21 September 2020

About the author(s)

Hlupheka L. Sithole, Department of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa


Background: Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is a public health problem that mostly affects children in warm subtropical climates. Unfortunately, the causative factors of the disease are not clearly defined, thus posing a serious management challenge to healthcare providers. It is therefore argued that understanding the pathogenesis of the disease and how various inflammatory cells affect the conjunctiva and the cornea may assist in the management of the disease.

Aim: As visual impairment and avoidable blindness are indicated, it is advisable for optometrists to understand the clinical presentation of this chronic condition in order to initiate appropriate interventions and/or immediate referrals where necessary.

Methods: A thorough literature search was conducted on peer-reviewed publications on VKC and children. All material obtained were then studied and the information extracted was used to document relevant information required for understanding VKC amongst children.

Results: The results in the studied material revealed that VKC was prevalent amongst children aged 2 to 18 years, affecting mostly male children of African and Indian origins. Different strategies of management of the disease have been proposed, including but not limited to explaining to parents the nature of the disease, environmental strategies and preventive measures as well as possible surgical intervention.

Conclusion: In view of the nature of this disease, healthcare providers should therefore seek to understand the history of the patient better when such patients present for their first consultation in order to develop a comprehensive management approach.


vernal keratoconjunctivitis; chronic disease; children; allergy; public health


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