Retinal changes associated with tamoxifen treatment for breast cancer

Eye (Lond). 1997:11 ( Pt 3):295-7. doi: 10.1038/eye.1997.64.


Purpose: This study was undertaken to estimate the incidence of retinal changes and determine the prevalence of ocular toxicity associated with tamoxifen treatment in a breast cancer population.

Methods: The study was based on a population cross-sectional survey, including 290 patients taking tamoxifen from 6 months to 12 years; 274 patients were analysed. The main outcome measures were the incidence of retinal changes and visual impairment.

Results: The incidence of retinal changes was 0.9% (3 of 274 patients). All 3 patients were asymptomatic. The length of tamoxifen treatment ranged from 39 months to 120 months in the affected patients, with cumulative tamoxifen doses ranging from 23.7 g to 73 g.

Conclusions: Retinopathy in patients receiving low doses of tamoxifen is rare and, in our study, did not result in changes in visual acuity. We found no retinopathy in patients receiving tamoxifen within the first 3 years of treatment or in patients receiving a total tamoxifen dosage of less than 23.7 g. Although retinopathy can occur in a tamoxifen-treated population, its low incidence and an associated good prognosis for vision does not merit special screening for this problem.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Tamoxifen / adverse effects*
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Visual Acuity / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Tamoxifen