The Differential Diagnosis of Crystals in the Retina

Int Ophthalmol. 2001;24(3):113-21. doi: 10.1023/a:1021189215498.


Crystalline deposits in the retina may be associated with a wide variety of systemic disorders such as oxalosis, cystinosis, hyperornithinaemia and Sjögren-Larsson syndrome. Refractile crystalline deposits may also be a manifestation of drug toxicity like the antineoplastic agent tamoxifen, the anesthetic methoxyflurane and the oral tanning agent canthaxanthine. Crystals may also occur in drug abusers who inject multiple crushed tablets of methadone or meperidine intravenously (talc retinopathy). The differential diagnosis of retinal crystals also includes primary ocular diseases like Bietti's crystalline retinopathy, calcified macular drusen, idiopathic parafoveal telangiectasis and longstanding retinal detachment. This article will review the most common causes of crystalline retinopathies, their etiologies, pathologies and clinical characteristics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crystallization
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Retina / drug effects*
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology
  • Visual Acuity