University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

EyeRounds Online Atlas of Ophthalmology

Contributor: Jordan M. Graff, MD, University of Iowa

Category: Oculoplastics, Cornea, External Disease



Symblepharon is the adhesion of the palpebral conjunctiva to the bulbar conjunctiva. It can be caused by some eye diseases (such as trachoma) or trauma to the eye.


Symblepharon / pseudopterygium / "cicatricial pterygium"

Contributor: William Charles Caccamise, Sr, MD, Retired Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

*Dr. Caccamise has very generously shared his images of patients taken while operating during the "eye season" in rural India as well as those from his private practice during the 1960's and 1970's. Many of his images are significant for their historical perspective and for techniques and conditions seen in settings in undeveloped areas.

symblepharon/ pseudopterygium/ cicatricial pterygium

In operating on this lesion, the eye surgeon must be prepared to handle perforation of the cornea during the operation.

Symblepharon at site of perforating ulcer of cornea

symblepharon/ pseudopterygium/ cicatricial pterygium

Symblepharon is adhesion of the conjunctiva of the lid to the conjunctiva of the eyeball-including the surface of the cornea. Perforation of an ulcus serpens led to this symblepharon.

Symblepharon caused by burn due to molten metal

symblepharon caused by burn due to molten metal.

Total symblepharon, both eyes

total symblepharon OU

The cause of the total symblepharon in this patient, the history, was very vague. Possible causes: lye thrown in patient's eyes over a land dispute or spontaneous perforation of both corneas by ulcus serpens/hypopyon ulcer. In the latter scenario, the patient wouldhave been supine, in a stuporous state with both eyes closed for several days. In that case, the lids would become attached to the cornea and bulbar conjunctiva of each eye.


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last updated: 02-08-2005
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