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Intravitreal methotrexate for treating vitreoretinal lymphoma: 10 years of experience


Aim: To describe our experience in treating vitreoretinal involvement of primary central nervous system lymphoma, by intravitreal injections of methotrexate (MTX).

Methods: Patients with suspected intraocular lymphoma underwent a diagnostic vitrectomy. Samples were sent for cytology, genetic evaluation and for interleukin level measurements. Treatment protocol included injection of 400 μg/0.1 ml MTX intravitreally twice weekly for 4 weeks, once weekly for 8 weeks, and then once monthly for 9 months, for a total of 25 injections. Data were collected from the patients’ records and included, inter alia, response to intravitreal MTX measured by time to disappearance of vitreal cells and retinal infiltrates, changes in visual acuity, and clinical recurrence rate.

Results: In the past 10 years we have treated 44 eyes of 26 patients; seven patients had monocular involvement, and 19 binocular. Six patients were initially diagnosed as having a non-responsive uveitis, and 16 with either CNS or systemic lymphoma with later involvement of the eye. Four patients had systemic lymphoma; one of them was found to have CNS lymphoma after the ocular involvement. Three patients had T cell lymphoma, and the rest had B cell lymphoma. Clinical remission was reached after 6.4 (3.4) (2–16) injections of MTX (mean (SD) (range)), with 95% of the eyes needing 13 injections or less to be cleared of malignant cells. None of the patients had an intraocular recurrence. Among the side effects, the most common was corneal epitheliopathy, which usually appeared after the third injection and began to subside when the intervals between injections increased.

Conclusions: Vitreoretinal involvement of lymphoma can be controlled effectively and without serious adverse reactions by intravitreal MTX injections. The treatment protocol described herein has resulted in no intraocular recurrence so far and has had bearable side effects. The accumulating clinical results bring us to propose the consideration of this protocol as a good first-line treatment option for intraocular lymphoma.

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