Fatal aplastic anemia following topical administration of ophthalmic chloramphenicol

Am J Ophthalmol. 1982 Mar;93(3):356-60. doi: 10.1016/0002-9394(82)90540-2.


A 73-year-old woman died of aplastic anemia less than two months after undergoing cataract extraction and beginning topical therapy with chloramphenicol. The first signs of pancytopenia began within one month of the surgery. The pattern of the aplastic anemia was associated with an idiosyncratic response to chloramphenicol. This was the second report of fatal aplastic anemia after topical treatment with chloramphenicol for ocular conditions, although two cases of reversible bone marrow hypoplasia have also been reported. Any other suspected cases of ocular toxicity associated with topically applied chloramphenicol should be reported to the National Registry of Drug-Induced Ocular Side Effects, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR 97201.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anemia, Aplastic / chemically induced*
  • Anemia, Aplastic / diagnosis
  • Cataract Extraction*
  • Chloramphenicol / adverse effects*
  • Chloramphenicol / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmic Solutions / adverse effects
  • Polymyxin B / therapeutic use
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control


  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Polymyxin B