Reversal of severe methanol-induced visual impairment: no evidence of retinal toxicity due to fomepizole

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2001;39(6):627-31. doi: 10.1081/clt-100108496.


We report a case of methanol poisoning exhibiting complete recovery from severe visual impairment following treatment with ethanol, fomepizole, and hemodialysis. An adult male presented with central blindness after ingesting methanol. Initial visual acuity was <20/800 (finger counting at 1-2 feet) with retinal edema on fundoscopy, arterial pH 7.19, methanol 97 mg/dL (30 mmol/L), formate 14.3 mmol/L, and ethanol undetectable. The patient was treated with ethanol, then fomepizole intravenously (15, 10, then 5 mg/kg), and hemodialysis. Methanol metabolism was effectively blocked by fomepizole even after ethanol had been eliminated, and the patient recovered 20/20 vision by day 14 with normal fundoscopy. This case report confirms highly efficient inhibition of alcohol dehydrogenase by fomepizole, as well as demonstrate the safety of fomepizole in a patient already exhibiting end-organ retinal toxicity. The potential for fomepizole to inhibit retinol dehydrogenase, an isoenzyme of alcohol dehydrogenase essential to vision, did not appear to be clinically significant in this symptomatic methanol-poisoned patient.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidotes / adverse effects
  • Antidotes / therapeutic use*
  • Buffers
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / blood
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / therapeutic use
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use
  • Fomepizole
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methanol / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Methanol / blood
  • Methanol / poisoning*
  • Pyrazoles / adverse effects
  • Pyrazoles / blood
  • Pyrazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Retinal Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / therapeutic use
  • Solvents / poisoning*
  • Vision Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Vision Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Antidotes
  • Buffers
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Pyrazoles
  • Solvents
  • Ethanol
  • Fomepizole
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Methanol