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Disease Profile

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.

1-5 / 10 000

US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)



Eye diseases


Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is a chronic, severe allergy that affects the surfaces of the eyes. It most commonly occurs in boys living in warm, dry climates. Attacks associated with VKC are common in the spring (hence the name "vernal") and summer but often reoccur in the winter.[1][2] Signs and symptoms usually begin before 10 years of age and may include hard, cobblestone-like bumps (papillae) on the upper eyelid; sensitivity to light; redness; sticky mucus discharge; and involuntary blinking or spasms of the eyelid (blepharospasm).[1][2] The condition usually subsides at the onset of puberty. It is caused by a hypersensitivity (allergic reaction) to airborne-allergens.[2] Management focuses on preventing "flare ups" and relieving the symptoms of the condition.[2]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Abnormal conjunctiva morphology
Abnormal sclera morphology
Corneal neovascularization
New blood vessel formation in cornea
Lacrimation abnormality
Abnormality of tear production
Extreme sensitivity of the eyes to light
Light hypersensitivity

[ more ]

Itchy skin
Skin itching

[ more ]

Punctate keratitis
30%-79% of people have these symptoms


Management of vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) focuses on preventing allergic attacks as well as relieving the signs and symptoms of the condition. It is often recommended that affected individuals try to avoid the agent that causes the allergy (if possible); wear dark sunglasses in the daytime; avoid dust; and stay inside on hot afternoons. Eye drops that affect the amount of histamine released by immune system cells (called mast cell stabilizers) may be used at the beginning of the season or at the first sign of a "flare-up" to prevent severe symptoms; however, they are not considered effective at relieving symptoms. Topical eye drops are generally preferred as the first source of treatment. Cold compresses, artificial tears, ointments and/or topical antihistamines may help. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may relieve symptoms in moderate cases; topical steroids are typically only used for more severe cases because long-term use can cause glaucoma.[2]

A few prescription drugs may also be available for the treatment of VKC; these include cromolyn sodium, lodoxamide tromethamine and Levocabastine. Oral administration of montelukast, a drug usually prescribed for asthma, has also been shown to be an effective treatment of VKC.[2] For more information about these drugs and their availability, individuals should speak with their health care providers.

FDA-Approved Treatments

The medication(s) listed below have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as orphan products for treatment of this condition. Learn more orphan products.

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

In-Depth Information

  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Vernal keratoconjunctivitis. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


  1. Pedram Hamrah, Reza Dana. Vernal keratoconjunctivitis. UpToDate. 2011;
  2. Vernal keratoconjunctivitis. NORD. August 25, 2011; https://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/562/viewAbstract. Accessed 12/7/2011.
  3. S Bonini, M Coassin, S Aronni and A Lambiase. Vernal keratoconjunctivitis. Eye. 2004; 18:345-351.

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