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Corneal neovascularization - External and Internal Eye
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Corneal neovascularization - External and Internal Eye

Contributors: Brandon D. Ayres MD, Christopher Rapuano MD, Harvey A. Brown MD, Sunir J. Garg MD, Lauren Patty Daskivich MD, MSHS
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Neovascularization of the cornea, also called corneal pannus, is the growth of blood vessels from the limbus into the cornea. The blood vessels can be very superficial or deep in the corneal stroma. Corneal pannus is often divided into 2 classes: micropannus, which denotes vascular ingrowth of 2 mm or less and macropannus, which is ingrowth of greater than 2 mm. Neovascularization of the cornea is a nonspecific sign of ocular inflammation. Often, the inflammation is sub-clinical and patients will not be aware of the vascularization, nor will they have any visual complaints. Contact lens wear and eyelid inflammation (blepharitis) are classically associated with asymptomatic pannus formation. More obvious causes of inflammation and corneal neovascularization include corneal ulcers, traumatic corneal scars, and atopic keratoconjunctivitis. Though the blood vessels are nonspecific, they do indicate a chronicity of inflammation as blood vessels do not migrate into the cornea acutely.


H16.409 – Unspecified corneal neovascularization, unspecified eye

246925003 – Vascularization of cornea

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

The differential diagnosis and causes of corneal neovascularization is too long to list in its entirety. The following list is a starting point and includes the most common causes.

  • Contact lens wear
  • Corneal ulcers (Bacterial corneal ulcer, fFungal corneal ulcer, and Acanthamoeba keratitis)
  • Blepharitis
  • Corneal chemical burn
  • Infectious Interstitial keratitis
  • Herpes simplex virus keratitis
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus
  • Ocular pterygium
  • Limbal stem cell deficiency
  • Marginal keratitis
  • Peripheral ulcerative keratitis
  • Surgical trauma
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca syndrome
  • Phlyctenular disease
  • Viral keratitis (Lyme keratitis, Epstein-Barr virus infection)

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Last Updated:07/01/2019
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Corneal neovascularization - External and Internal Eye
A medical illustration showing key findings of Corneal neovascularization : Blurred vision, Photophobia, Vision loss, Conjunctival injection
Clinical image of Corneal neovascularization - imageId=3089395. Click to open in gallery.
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