Lupus Retinopathy: A Marker of Active Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Rheumatol Int. 2018 Aug;38(8):1495-1501. doi: 10.1007/s00296-018-4083-4. Epub 2018 Jun 13.


Retinopathy in the context of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is associated with severe disease and poorer prognosis. We studied retinopathy in our cohort of Indian lupus patients. Four hundred and thirty-seven patients fulfilling the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics-American College of Rheumatology-2012 criteria, attending the department of Clinical Immunology were enrolled under this cross-sectional study. A comprehensive clinical (including ophthalmological) examination and immunological profile were performed. Retinopathy was defined if cotton-wool spots, haemorrhages, vasculitis, retinal detachment or optic disc changes as papilledema, optic atrophy were present. Disease activity was assessed using SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI). Mean age of participants was 28.06 ± 9.7 years (93.1% females); median disease duration 12 months (Interquartile range-IQR 6.36). Forty-five (10.3%) had SLE associated retinopathy. Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia [31.1 vs 14.5%, p value 0.004, odd's ratio-OR (95% confidence interval-CI) 2.65 (1.33-5.29)], serositis [33.3 vs 18.9%, p value 0.023, OR (CI) 2.14 (1.11-4.10)], lupus nephritis [62.2 vs 40.8%, p value 0.006, OR (CI) 2.38 (1.26-4.50)], seizures [28.9 vs 12.8%, p value 0.004, OR (CI) 2.77 (1.36-5.65)] and median SLEDAI score (24 vs 12, p < 0.01) were significantly higher in those with retinopathy. On adjusted binary logistic regression, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, lupus nephritis and presence of antibodies to Smith antigen were predictors for retinopathy. Retinopathy is common in SLE, a marker of active disease with frequent renal involvement and should be screened for in all patients with lupus.

Keywords: Disease activity; Lupus nephritis; Neuropsychiatric lupus; Retinopathy; Seizures; Systemic lupus erythematosus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Anticardiolipin / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Discoid / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Discoid / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Discoid / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Nephritis / blood
  • Lupus Nephritis / complications*
  • Lupus Nephritis / immunology
  • Male
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Retinal Diseases / immunology


  • Antibodies, Anticardiolipin