A new study shows that transplants of the salivary gland and the labial mucous membrane may be able to treat patients suffering from Stevens-Johnson syndrome-related complications like severe symblepharon.

Severe symblepharon is the full or partial adhesion of the palpebral conjunctiva of the eyelid to the bulbar conjunctiva of the eyeball. When these adhesions take place, it can cause restrictions in ocular motility, diplopia, problems closing your eyes all the way and entropion with secondary effects on the surface of the eye, including the cornea.

The purpose of the study that recommends the transplants was to monitor minor salivary glands and labial mucous membrane grafts for patients that have been diagnosed with severe symblepharon and dry eye caused by Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS). The authors of the study monitored 19 patients that had severe symblepharon and dry eye caused by SJS who had the transplants. They also conducted a complete ophthalmic exam that included the Schirmer I test before and after the surgery. At the time all of the patients had a preoperative Schirmer I test value of zero.

The study found that there was significant improvement in 8 of the patients’ visual acuity. Values obtained in the Schirmer I test showed great improvement as well in all 14 of the eyes within 6 months after the surgery. Tear production also increased dramatically in the eyes that received more than 10 glands per graft as opposed to the eyes that received less glands. The study also found that 11 of the patients experienced corneal transparency improvement.

This appears to be great news for the patients suffering from severe eye complications after suffering from Stevens-Johnson syndrome. While the idea of undergoing transplants isn’t exactly exciting news, at least it offers these patients some hope for improvement from extreme dry eyes.