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Jpn J Ophthalmol. 2008 Jul-Aug;52(4):331-3. doi: 10.1007/s10384-008-0561-7. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Optic disc edema as a possible complication of Imatinib mesylate (Gleevec).

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Pyungchon-dong, Anyang, Gyeonggi-do, Korea.



Imatinib is effective for a variety of hematologic and nonhematologic malignancies. Well-known ocular side effects are periorbital edema, epiphora, extraocular muscle palsy, and blepharoconjunctivitis. However, optic disc edema has not been reported as a complication of imatinib mesylate. Herein, we describe a patient with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who developed optic disc edema during treatment with imatinib.


A 14-year-old Korean girl was referred to ophthalmology for a 3-week history of photopsia in both eyes. She had started taking imatinib daily 2 months previously for CML. At the initial exam, slit lamp showed optic disc edema in both eyes, even though visual acuity was 20/20 and other optic nerve function evaluations were within normal limits. We recommended to the oncologist discontinuation of the imatinib treatment.


When the patient was followed for 1 week after stopping imatinib treatment, the frequency of photopsia decreased and the optic disc edema improved. Because a second examination 3 weeks after discontinuation of imatinib revealed much improved optic disc edema, she restarted the imatinib treatment. No ocular side effects have been noted so far.


Optic disc edema should be considered one of the complications associated with imatinib. We propose discontinuation of the treatment for a short period when optic disc edema occurs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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