In vivo confocal microscopy of patients with amiodarone-induced keratopathy

Cornea. 2001 May;20(4):368-73. doi: 10.1097/00003226-200105000-00007.


Purpose: To describe the corneal findings in patients with amiodarone-induced keratopathy by means of in vivo confocal microscopy.

Methods: Twenty-two eyes of 11 patients (eight men and three women) receiving amiodarone therapy and 20 eyes of 10 healthy sex-and age-matched control subjects were selected for confocal microscopic examination. The patients were examined by use of a scanning slit corneal confocal microscope (Confoscan 2.0). Five complete scans of the entire cornea were performed for each eye with a total examination time of less than 5 minutes.

Results: All patients receiving amiodarone showed the presence of high reflective, bright intracellular inclusions in the epithelial layers. These findings were more evident within the basal cell layers. In the eyes with advanced keratopathy (stages 2 and 3), bright microdots were detectable within the anterior and posterior stroma and on the endothelial cell layer. In the anterior stroma, the keratocyte density in the treated group was reduced compared with values of the control group (p < 0.001), and a markedly irregular aspect of the stromal nerve fibers was found. The main characteristic of this nerve irregularity was represented by the clew-shaped appearance of the nerve trunks.

Conclusion: Detailed examination of corneal structure by confocal microscopy shows that amiodarone keratopathy in long-term treated patients presents some findings that are consistent with higher toxicity than was expected and that involve the deep corneal layers.

MeSH terms

  • Amiodarone / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Cornea / pathology*
  • Corneal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Corneal Diseases / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal*
  • Middle Aged


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Amiodarone