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Interferon associated retinopathy has been increasingly reported in Japan. In fact, most reports have appeared in the Japanese literature. In the present study, we review these articles.
Interferon was originally described as a factor capable of inducing antiviral activity.1 Since then, the factor has been found to have antitumour activity in human neoplasms including metastatic renal cell carcinoma,2 skin melanoma,3Kaposi’s sarcoma,4 and haemangiomatosis.5The agent also inhibits vascular endothelial cells6 and regressed experimental iris neovascularisation.7 In Europe, interferon has been used in an attempt to treat dendritic keratitis.8 In the USA, it has been used mainly to treat subretinal neovascularisation in age related macular degeneration.9-11 In Australia, antifibrotic effects of interferon have been employed to treat glaucoma filtering surgery and to manage ocular cicatricial pemphigoid.12 13
Interferons have been clinically used in the treatment of viral and malignant diseases. Subsequently, a variety of adverse effects of interferon use has been reported.14 Quesada et al 14 noted toxic reactions from interferon, including acute side effects of an influenza-like syndrome consisting of fever, chills, myalgias, arthralgias, and headache. Fatigue has been the most prevalent chronic toxicity. Toxicities of the central nervous system, haematopoietic system, gastrointestine, renal function, skin, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, and endocrine also have been described. However, these authors did not mention the ocular toxicity.14
Typical interferon associated retinopathy
In 1990, Ikebe and associates15 first reported a 39 year old patient with retinal haemorrhages and cotton wool spots following intravenous administration of interferon. Since 1992, interferon therapy for viral hepatitis has been used at many hospitals in Japan; there are possibly more than 1.6 million patients with type C hepatitis in Japan and interferon use has been allowed by Health Insurance of Japan. Since 1993, ocular complications following interferon …
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