Hepatitis C virus induces abnormalities in surface and intraocular pressure: a comparative study

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Various ocular lesions are associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Few studies have focused on untreated patients. This study aims to describe ocular lesions in untreated HCV-infected patients without ophthalmic symptoms by means of a comprehensive ophthalmologic examination.

Materials and methods

Ninety-five consecutive naive HCV chronically infected patients and 54 controls (blood donors) were enrolled in a prospective, cross-sectional, single-center study. The following variables were analyzed: age, sex, HCV viral load and genotype, liver fibrosis, visual acuity, biomicroscopy of the anterior segment, lacrimal function (tear break-up time) and Schirmer’s tests), posterior segment examination, and intraocular pressure.


HCV-infected patients presented an almost four times higher risk of lacrimal function involvement by tear break-up time [odds ratio (OR)=3.76; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75–8.04, P=0.001] and Schirmer’s test (OR=4.17; 95% CI 1.83–9.50, P=0.001) than the controls. The chances of palpebral biomicroscopic lesions (blepharitis) were also higher (OR=3.21; 95% CI 1.49–6.94, P=0.003). Mean tonometry was higher in HCV patients (right eye 14.4±2.3 vs. 12.2±1.5, P<0.001 and left eye 14.5±2.3 vs. 12.0±1.4, P<0.001).


Naive HCV patients even with no ophthalmic complaints presented a greater prevalence of lacrimal function abnormalities and a higher frequency of blepharitis compared with the control group. As never formerly described, intraocular pressure in HCV patients was higher than that in controls.

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