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Amiodarone-induced keratopathy in healthy dogs


Address communications to: R. L. Hamlin Tel.: (614) 292 8122 Fax: (614) 292 2077 e-mail:


Amiodarone has a broad spectrum as an antiarrhythmic agent and is indicated for patients with atrial and ventricular arrhythmias. Amiodarone-induced corneal deposits are the most common reversible side effect (70–100%) in humans. Additional ocular effects in humans include deposits in the lens, retina and optic nerve. This study was conducted to determine ocular effects of chronic oral amiodarone in healthy dogs. Six chronically amiodarone-treated dogs and four controls were used for this study. Ophthalmic examination was performed using biomicroscopy and indirect ophthalmoscopy at the end of 4th, 7th and 11th weeks when dogs received amiodarone. Corneal microdeposits were observed at the end of the 7th week in one eye and at end of the 11th week in the other eye of one dog. Immediately following euthanasia, corneas and optic nerves were harvested for light and electron microscopic analysis. Light microscopic analysis showed corneal deposits in the basal epithelial cells of the cornea of the clinically affected dog. In addition, a significant increase in basal cell turnover as indicated by mitotic index was observed in the affected dog compared to both nondeposit amiodarone and control groups. All remaining animals were normal. One out of six dogs treated with amiodarone demonstrated corneal deposits (16%). This prevalence is low compared to humans. Explanations for this may include species variations particularly in volume of lacrimal secretion, or the need for longer administration. In addition, sunlight is believed to exacerbate the corneal deposits in humans and all dogs in this study were housed indoors.

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