Incidence and risk factors of retinopathy in Egyptian patients with chronic hepatitis C virus treated with pegylated interferon plus ribavirin

Int J Infect Dis. 2012 Jan;16(1):e67-71. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2011.09.022. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


Background: Data are scarce on ocular complications in Egyptian patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy. The aim of this study was to investigate the development of retinal lesions induced by interferon therapy for chronic hepatitis C.

Methods: We prospectively analyzed 84 patients with chronic hepatitis C (total 168 eyes), who underwent combination pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy for 48 weeks. Visual acuity, color vision, and visual field were measured, and a fundus assessment was made at baseline, at 12, 24, and 48 weeks post the commencement of treatment, and at follow-up, 1 month after treatment. Past medical and ocular histories, visual symptoms, and the results of a full ophthalmologic assessment were recorded for each patient.

Results: Twenty-two patients (26%) developed retinopathy. Retinal hemorrhage was observed in eight patients. Four patients complained of visual disturbance. Retinopathy disappeared in 16 patients (73%) despite the continuation of combination therapy. However, retinopathy persisted in six patients with retinal hemorrhage and three of them stopped treatment. A comparison of the clinical backgrounds between the patients with and without retinopathy showed no significant differences with regard to gender, HCV RNA level, white blood cell count, platelet count, hemoglobin level, or fibrosis score. However patients with retinopathy were of older age, had a higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes mellitus, and more often did not respond to therapy. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that hypertension and diabetes were factors predicting retinopathy.

Conclusion: Retinopathy associated with interferon α-2a and ribavirin combination therapy tends to develop in patients of older age with hypertension and diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepacivirus / pathogenicity
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyethylene Glycols / administration & dosage*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Retinal Diseases / complications
  • Retinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • Ribavirin / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Ribavirin