Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of abnormalities in visual function and ocular structures associated with the long-term use of tamoxifen citrate.
Methods: A single-masked, cross-sectional study involving multiple community and institutional ophthalmologic departments was conducted with a volunteer sample of 303 women with breast cancer currently taking part in a randomized clinical trial to determine the efficacy of tamoxifen (20 mg/day) in preventing recurrences. Participants included women who had never been on drug (n=85); women who had taken tamoxifen for an average of 4.8 years, then been off the drug for an average of 2.7 years (n=140); and women who had been on tamoxifen continuously for an average of 7.8 years (n=78). Women were evaluated by questionnaire, psychophysical testing, and clinical examination to determine any abnormalities in visual function and the comparative prevalences of corneal, lens, retinal, and optic nerve pathology.
Results: There were no cases of vision-threatening ocular toxicity among the tamoxifen-treated participants. Compared with nontreated participants, the tamoxifen-treated women had no differences in the activities of daily vision, visual acuity measurements, or other tests of visual function except for color screening. Intraretinal crystals (odds ratio [OR]=3.58, P=.178) and posterior subcapsular opacities (OR=4.03, P=.034) were more frequent in the tamoxifen-treated group.
Conclusions: Women should have a thorough baseline ophthalmic evaluation within the first year of initiating tamoxifen therapy and receive appropriate follow-up evaluations.