Objective: As part of a randomised double-blind study of a new atypical antipsychotic we sought to determine both the levels of visual acuity and the occurrence of toxic side-effects in a group of patients treated for many years on a variety of antipsychotics. Method: Twenty-three inpatients with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia from two separate hospital locations who met the criteria for the double-blind trial were examined for ocular abnormalities at both baseline and at trial completion. Results: At baseline a high prevalence of abnormalities was identified: 19 patients (82.6%) were found to have one or more ocular abnormalities, including lens opacities/cataracts and corneal pigmentation; three patients, with delusions related to the sun, were noted to have solar burns; a high proportion (almost 70%) of patients had untreated visual acuity problems. No further changes were observed at the follow-up examinations. Conclusions: The possible causes of ocular disturbance in schizophrenia and the reasons for the relatively high ocular morbidity in this group are thought to result from both illness-related factors and the effects of antipsychotic medication. Causality is confounded by a number of issues such as the high prevalence of smoking, poor general health and the variety of antipsychotic medications used in the treatment of psychosis as well as substance abuse. The clinical implications are considered in this paper in relation to the move towards community-based psychiatric services.
- Chronic schizophrenia
- Eye toxicity