This rare genetic disorder can cause symptoms similar to pink eye, but it’s more widespread in the body.

Tissue irritation can be a common but frustrating symptom of many illnesses or diseases that people experience throughout their lives.

One of the most typical forms of it is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. While most people think that pink eye is caused solely by infections, there can be other forms of conjunctivitis that aren’t always due to bacterial or viral infections.

Ligneous conjunctivitis is a rare disorder that doesn’t have the same causes as other forms of conjunctivitis. Because it can be more serious, it’s important to get diagnosed quickly and begin treatment to manage the condition and prevent vision loss.

In this article, we’ll cover the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ligneous conjunctivitis.

Ligneous conjunctivitis is caused by a buildup of a protein called fibrin. When there’s too much of it in the eye, it leads to inflammation of the conjunctiva, or body tissue.

While conjunctivitis is often viewed as an eye issue only, ligneous conjunctivitis is not limited to the eyes and can also be present in many of the mucous membranes in the body such as the vocal cords, bronchi, vagina, gums, cervix, trachea, nose, and even the larynx.

Currently, there’s no single known cause for ligneous conjunctivitis. However, experts suggest that it could be due to an autosomal recessive gene.

The condition is so rare that only 250 cases have been reported to date, according to a 2021 study published in the Oman Journal of Ophthalmology, and the estimated rate of cases is 16 per 1 million people.

Additionally, some experts have suggested that rates might be higher in countries where marriage between close relatives is more common.

Likewise, the condition is often linked with a condition called congenital plasminogen deficiency (also known as hypoplasminogenemia) because it’s frequently seen in people with this diagnosis. In fact, nearly 80% of all cases will present with ligneous conjunctivitis.

The most common symptom associated with ligneous conjunctivitis is lesions on the mucous membranes that have a “woody” texture. They’re often yellow-white or red in appearance.

In most cases, inflammation is the main symptom that serves as a warning sign. Within the eyes, these lesions are usually on the inside of the eyelid but can also be present on the sclera or cornea.

Topical treatments tend to be the popular option for treating ligneous conjunctivitis. While surgical removal of excess tissue provides temporary relief, it doesn’t treat the condition and prevent recurrence. Topical plasminogen concentrate treatments tend to be the most effective and are also far easier for patients to manage.

The solution is derived from plasma and is given in eye drop form. Typically, the dosage is every 2 hours for 3 to 4 weeks. In studies, this has yielded positive results with people typically not experiencing recurrence even up to 1 year after completing treatment.

Alternatively, some people may receive plasminogen intravenously. With this course, the treatment is given daily for two weeks before being reduced to a total duration of four weeks.

While not much is known about ligneous conjunctivitis, it’s believed that it’s an autosomal recessive trait and may be linked to interfamilial marriage. The condition is marked by an increase in fibrin lesions because of a lack of plasmin. It’s a rare condition that to date only has 250 confirmed cases.

The most common symptom is fibrous legions on mucous membranes which can include the inner eyelids, cornea, pupil, and other parts of the body like the larynx, vocal cords, vagina, cervix, gums, and trachea.

Although surgical interventions were once the recommended treatment, today topical plasminogen concentrate that’s administered as eye drops has been proven in some cases to be incredibly effective.