Nature and incidence of severe limbal stem cell deficiency in Australia and New Zealand

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This study aimed to determine the nature and incidence of severe limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) in Australia and New Zealand.


A 1-year pilot surveillance study with a 1-year follow-up period was conducted in association with the Australian and New Zealand Ophthalmic Surveillance Unit.


The study included patients reported by practising ophthalmologists on the Surveillance Unit's database.


Ophthalmologists were provided with a definition of severe limbal stem cell deficiency, contacted on a monthly basis by the Unit and asked to report newly diagnosed cases.

Main Outcome Measures

Severe LSCD was defined as at least 6 clock hours of whorl-like epitheliopathy, an opaque epithelium arising from the limbus, late fluorescein staining of the involved epithelium and superficial corneal neovascularization or conjunctivalization.


On average, 286 report cards were sent by the Surveillance Unit to practising ophthalmologists each month (total 3429 over 12 months) and the Unit received an average of 176 responses per month (total 2111; 62% response rate). During the 1-year study period from April 2013 to March 2014, 14 positive cases were reported to the Unit. A range of underlying aetiologies were implicated, with contact lens over-wear and cicatrizing conjunctivitis being the most common (n = 3).


This surveillance study is the first worldwide to document the incidence of limbal stem cell deficiency; however, because of study design limitations, it is likely to have been under-reported. It provides novel data on the demographics, clinical conditions and management of patients with limbal stem cell deficiency as reported by treating ophthalmologists.

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