There is increasing clinical and research interest in the potential contribution of Demodex to ocular surface disease. The aim of this systematic review was to summarise and synthesise current clinical evidence relating to the aetiology, diagnosis and treatment of ocular Demodex.
A comprehensive literature search was performed in OVID Medline, OVID Embase, and clinical trial registries, for studies published between 1990 and August 2019, examining Demodex on the ocular surface. The review included primary clinical research studies and systematic reviews of primary clinical research studies, where Demodex was considered in the context of the ocular surface and/or adnexa. Studies were categorised using the National Health and Medical Research Council evidence hierarchy. Risk of bias assessment was performed using validated tools for studies categorised as providing Level I or II evidence. A total of 87 studies were eligible for inclusion, including two systematic reviews. Most studies (60%) were observational, describing the prevalence of ocular Demodex in different clinical populations. There was a high degree of variability in the epidemiological data derived from cross-sectional aetiology studies. There was mostly consistent evidence to support an association between ocular Demodex and chronic blepharitis. Seven diagnostic test-accuracy studies were identified, which considered a range of techniques, including slit lamp examination for cylindrical eyelash collarettes and/or eyelash manipulation techniques, light microscopic evaluation of epilated eyelashes and in vivo confocal microscopy. There is currently no accepted gold-standard diagnostic method for ocular Demodex. For intervention studies, there was one systematic review, 11 published randomised trials, six trial registry entries, and nine case series. Despite a number of recent trials, the appropriate treatment regimen for ocular Demodex (including the optimal criteria and timing of an intervention) is not clearly established.
This comprehensive narrative synthesis has captured the landscape of clinical evidence relating to the prevalence, aetiology, diagnosis and treatment of ocular Demodex. There remain opportunities to enhance understanding of its role in ocular surface disease, best diagnostic approaches and optimal treatment protocols.
© 2020 The Authors Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics © 2020 The College of Optometrists.