Treatment of onchocerciasis. The ocular effects of ivermectin and diethylcarbamazine

Arch Ophthalmol. 1986 Jun;104(6):863-70. doi: 10.1001/archopht.1986.01050180097039.


The ocular changes that occur with diethylcarbamazine treatment of onchocerciasis seriously restrict its usefulness. Ivermectin, a newly developed antifilarial drug, was compared with diethylcarbamazine for treatment of onchocerciasis in a double-masked, placebo-controlled trial. Thirty men with moderate to severe infection and ocular involvement were randomly assigned to receive ivermectin as a single oral dose (200 micrograms/kg), diethylcarbamazine (administered for eight days), or placebo. Detailed ocular examinations were performed serially over a 12-month period. Diethylcarbamazine treatment caused a marked increase in living and dead microfilariae in the cornea, punctate opacities, and limbitis during the first week of therapy. Ivermectin had no such effect. However, ivermectin therapy resulted in a long-term reduction in intraocular microfilariae comparable to that seen with diethylcarbamazine. Ivermectin appears to have few ocular complications and be a better-tolerated and more effective microfilaricidal agent than diethylcarbamazine for the treatment of onchocerciasis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthelmintics / adverse effects
  • Anthelmintics / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diethylcarbamazine / adverse effects
  • Diethylcarbamazine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eye / drug effects*
  • Eye Diseases / complications
  • Eye Diseases / diagnosis
  • Eye Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Ivermectin
  • Lactones / adverse effects
  • Lactones / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Microfilariae / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Onchocerca / drug effects
  • Onchocerciasis / complications
  • Onchocerciasis / diagnosis
  • Onchocerciasis / drug therapy*
  • Random Allocation
  • Retina / parasitology
  • Time Factors


  • Anthelmintics
  • Lactones
  • Ivermectin
  • Diethylcarbamazine