The use of optical coherence tomography for the detection of ocular toxicity by ethambutol

PLoS One. 2018 Nov 8;13(11):e0204655. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0204655. eCollection 2018.


Objectives: To evaluate, through (OCT), alterations in retinal thickness, secondary to use of ethambutol in the treatment of patients with tuberculosis. In addition to studying the use of simpler semiological tools, such as Amsler and Ishihara, in the screening of these cases.

Methods: Thirty patients with ethambutol were recruited from the reference service of tuberculosis treatment at the Federal University of Espírito Santo from May 2015 to July 2016. After clinical history, the following parameters were analyzed; best corrected visual acuity, biomicroscopy, tonometry, photomotor reflex testing, Ishihara test, Amsler's grid test, color digital retinography and optical coherence tomography with CIRRUS HD-OCT (Humphrey-Zeiss) every 2 months during treatment with ethambutol. They were divided into two groups according to the treatment: (1) standard group, two months of ethambutol; (2) extended group, nine to twelve months of ethambutol.

Results: There was a significant reduction in OCT thickness between the pre and post treatment times in ten eyes of the extended group, mean reduction of 7,8 microns and in seven eyes of the standard group, with an average of 5.57 microns. During the study, a significant reduction of retinal thickness was observed in both groups at two months of treatment, and the delta percentage was higher in those patients who presented reduction of visual acuity and / or change in the Ishihara test.

Conclusion: There was a significant reduction in the thickness of the nerve fiber layer by OCT in the patients studied, being more pronounced in those submitted to the extended treatment regimen. This reduction was observed two months after the start of therapy, and was more significant in the cases that presented changes in the Ishihara test.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ethambutol / administration & dosage
  • Ethambutol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retina / diagnostic imaging*
  • Retinal Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Retinal Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence*
  • Tuberculosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*
  • Visual Acuity / drug effects*


  • Ethambutol

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.