Antibiotic Not Linked to Eye Disorder

Oral fluoroquinolone use was not found to increase the risk of retinal detachment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Dominique Brooks, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics commonly used to treat respiratory infections. There have been warnings that these medications may affect vision. According to new research, however, there may be little cause for concern.

A recent study found that there was no increased risk of retinal detachment — an eye disorder that may lead to poor clearness of vision — for fluoroquinolone users (e.g., Cipro and Avelox) when compared to individuals who did not use fluoroquinolones.

"Ask a pharmacist about the side effects of your medications."

This study was led by Björn Pasternak, MD, PhD, from the Department of Epidemiology Research at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark. The research team examined whether use of oral fluoroquinolone increased a person’s risk for retinal detachment.

Fluroquinolones are antibiotics commonly used to treat respiratory and urinary tract infections.

Retinal detachment is an eye condition where the retina separates from the part of the eye that provides it with oxygen.

For this study, Dr. Pasternak and colleagues analyzed data from a nationwide register in Denmark between 1997 and 2011. These researchers focused on 748,792 cases of fluoroquinolone use and 5,520,446 comparisons.

Participants were excluded if they had a previous diagnosis of retinal detachment, had used fluoroquinolones in the past 180 days, had eye injections to treat other eye conditions, underwent cataract surgery or were diagnosed with severe eye trauma in the past 30 days.

Fluoroquinolone use was split into four categories: current (days 1-10), recent (days 11- 30), past (days 31-60) and distant use (days 61-180).

The researchers looked at cases of retinal detachment and split them into five separate categories based on the type of retinal detachment (e.g,. retinal detachment that occurred due to a tear in the retina or a hole in the retina).

Several factors that could have influenced retinal detachment risk were taken into account, including age, gender, region of residence, presence of other conditions and use of other prescription medications.

These researchers found a total of 566 retinal detachment cases in their study sample.

There were 72 cases of retinal detachment in fluoroquinolone users and 494 cases of retinal detachment in non-fluoroquinolone users.

The majority of the 72 retinal detachment cases in the fluoroquinolone group occurred during distant use (46 cases).

When compared to non-users, the researchers did not find an increased risk of retinal detachment in recent, past or distant use.

Based on their study's findings, these researchers noted that the greatest number of retinal detachment cases that would occur in fluroquinolones current users would translate to 11 extra cases of retinal detachment for every 1,000,000 fluoroquinolone users.

They concluded that oral fluoroquinolone use was not connected to an increased risk of retinal detachment.

This study was published on November 26 in JAMA.

The authors of this study reported no competing interests.

Review Date: 
November 25, 2013
Last Updated:
November 26, 2013