Conjunctival flaps for the treatment of advanced ocular surface disease—looking back and beyond

Richard P. Gibralter, Vivian S. Hawn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Conjunctival flaps have previously proven to be effective in preserving the globe for individuals with severe ocular surface disease. Infectious keratitis, neurotrophic keratitis, nontraumatic corneal melts, descemetoceles, perforations, and corneal burns are all indications for this procedure. The flaps promote nutrition, metabolism, structure, and vascularity, as well as reduce pain, irritation, inflammation, and infection. Furthermore, patients avoid the emotional and psychological repercussions of enucleation or evisceration, while requiring fewer postoperative medications and office visits. Currently, fewer flaps are performed due to the emergence of additional therapeutic techniques, such as serum tears, bandage lenses, corneal grafting, Oxervate, amniotic membrane, and umbilical cord grafting. However, despite newer conservative medical methods, conjunctival flaps have been demonstrated to be useful and advantageous. Moreover, future technologies and approaches for globe preservation and sight restoration after prior conjunctival flaps are anticipated. Herein, we review the history, advantages, and disadvantages of various surgical techniques: Gundersen’s bipedicle flap, partial limbal advancement flap, selective pedunculated conjunctival flap with or without Tenon’s capsule, and Mekonnen’s modified inferior palpebral-bulbar conjunctival flap. The surgical pearls and recommendations offered by the innovators are also reviewed, including restrictions and potential complications. Procedures for visual rehabilitation in selective cases after conjunctival flap are reviewed as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number36
JournalAnnals of Eye Science
StatePublished - Dec 15 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Conjunctival flap
  • Gunderson flap
  • ocular surface reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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