Purpose: To investigate the incidence of retinal vascular complications and risk factors in patients with chronic hepatitis C receiving interferon-ribavirin therapy in Taiwan.
Methods: By using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, we compared the incidence of retinal vascular complications between patients receiving and not receiving interferon-ribavirin treatment. The exposure and nonexposure groups were randomly 1:1 frequency-matched according to age, sex, income, urbanization level, hypertension, and diabetes. Incidence of each retinal vascular complication and hazard ratios were assessed in the follow-up evaluation.
Results: Of the sample of 4736 patients, a total of 182 patients (3.84%) developed retinopathy during the follow-up period, of which 110 patients (4.65%) received interferon-ribavirin therapy and 72 patients (3.04%) did not receive interferon-ribavirin therapy. After multivariate adjustments, the risk of retinopathy during the follow-up period was 1.533 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.139-2.064; P = .0048) times higher in patients receiving interferon-ribavirin therapy than in those in the comparison cohort not receiving the therapy. Patients with hypertension compared with those without it (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.530; 95% CI, 1.069-2.135; P = .0125) also had an increased risk of retinopathy.
Conclusions: Interferon-ribavirin therapy was associated with a 53.3% increased risk of retinal vascular complications compared with not receiving the therapy. Regular ophthalmologic examination is essential for patients receiving interferon-ribavirin, particularly those with hypertension.
Keywords: cotton-wool spots; hepatitis C virus; interferon; pharmacoepidemiology; retinal hemorrhage; retinal vascular complication.
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.