Pemphigoid Clinic

Wills Eye's Pemphigoid Clinic, established in 1997 by Irving Raber, MD, Robert Penne, MD and Guy Webster, MD combines the expertise of subspecialists in cornea, oculoplastics and uveitis. Each month, residents evaluate 25-30 patients with conjunctival and corneal scarring diseases, including less common causes of scarring such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, and ocular rosacea. To better serve the patients they are seen by all the subspecialists at the same time. Drs. Raber and Hammersmith from Cornea. Dr. JP Dunn form Uveitis and Drs. Penne and Rabinowitz from Oculoplastics.

What is Mucus Membrane Pemphigoid?

Mucus membrane pemphigoid is an auto-immune disorder wherein the body reacts against skin and mucus membranes. When the mucus membranes of the eye (conjunctiva) are involved the condition is referred to as ocular cicatricial pemphigoid (OCP). What triggers the disease onset is unknown.

Involvement of the eye may occur as the only manifestation of the disease but can be associated with other skin or mucus membrane involvement, most commonly with ulcers in the mouth although the esophagus (difficulty swallowing), scalp, rectum and vagina are other sites of disease manifestation.

Patients typically present to our clinic when the disease affects the eye, complaining of redness, mucus discharge, irritation, dryness, light sensitivity, and declining vision. The characteristic finding is scarring of the conjunctiva lining the inner surface of the eyelids that can progress to adhesions between the inside of the lids and the surface of the eyeball, termed symblepharon. The conjunctival scarring ultimately destroys the accessory tear producing glands in the lids and conjunctiva and may obliterate the ducts transporting tears from the main lacrimal (tear) gland which is under the outer portion of the upper eyelid, resulting in severe dry eye that in turn causes scarring and opacification of the cornea leading to blindness.
The conjunctival scarring frequently causes eyelashes to rub against the eyeball exacerbating the ocular irritation and scratching the surface of the cornea further contributing to corneal scarring and visual loss.

View our doctors: Irving M. Raber, MD, Robert B. Penne, MD, FACS, Kristin M. Hammersmith, MD, James P. Dunn, MD and Michael Rabinowitz, MD

Clinic Hours: Third Friday of the Month, 1:00 p.m. — 4:30 p.m. (until the last patient is seen)

Wills Eye Hospital
840 Walnut Street, Suite 920
Philadelphia PA 19107

Phone: (215) 928-3180
Fax: (215) 928-3854