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Reuters Health Information (2008-02-20): Visual function stable during interferon alpha HCV therapy


Visual function stable during interferon alpha HCV therapy

Last Updated: 2008-02-20 14:23:22 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Contrary to findings of previous studies, a prospective study of hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients in the UK has revealed no change in visual function following treatment with pegylated interferon alpha.

Reports of retinopathy developing in HCV patients receiving pegylated interferon alpha treatment have led to recommendations that patients' vision be evaluated and monitored, lead investigator Dr. N. N. Malik and colleagues at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.

To help document the need for visual monitoring, the researchers prospectively studied 104 eyes in 52 patients with HCV who were being treated with pegylated interferon alpha. They were evaluated at baseline and at 3 and 6 months after the start of treatment, according to the report in the February issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

None of the patients reported any visual symptoms and the investigators found "negligible" changes in factors including contrast sensitivity, color vision and mean changes in right and left logarithmic minimal angle resolution visual acuity.

No visual field defects were found and no patients developed optic disc changes or permanent fundal changes. One patient appeared to develop nasal field defects within 3 months, but the patient was lost to follow-up.

The researchers point out that there is a "general paucity of relevant data" on this side effect in the UK, so larger multicenter trials would produce more evidence. However, they suspect that "regular screening for visually asymptomatic individuals under treatment with pegylated interferon for hepatitis C is unnecessary."

Br J Ophthalmol 2008;92:256-258.

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