Ocular side effects of target therapy and immunotherapy in patients with cutaneous malignant melanoma

Jennifer Eikenberry, Alon Harris, Rana Torabi, Matthew Lang, Derek Denney, Alice Verticchio Vercellin, Brent Siesky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine the nature and frequency of ocular side effects due to systemic target therapy with BRAF and MEK inhibitors as well as immunotherapy with cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibodies used in the treatment of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM). Design: While proven effective in cancer treatment, target therapy and immunotherapy have been associated with ocular side effects likely due to their ability to alter the immune privilege of the eye. We conducted a retrospective chart review of patients undergoing target and immunotherapy for CMM and documented all associated eye findings. Methods: We reviewed the records of 34 patients receiving target and immunotherapy for CMM who were examined in the academic ophthalmology clinic between 2012 and 2017. Results: Ocular side effects were present in 41.1% of patients in this study with 14.7% presenting with uveitis. Patients undergoing therapy with either vemurafenib only or dabrafenib/trametinib combination therapies comprised 70.5% of the study cohort. Ocular side effects occurred in 45.5% and 46.1% of patients on vemurafenib and dabrafenib/trametinib combination therapy, respectively. About 47.5% of males presented with ocular side effects compared to 30.5% of females. Notably, 13/14 patients with ocular symptoms recovered. Conclusion: This study highlights the frequency of ocular side effects in patients treated with target therapy and immunotherapy for CMM and shows that symptom resolution can be effectively achieved with proper ophthalmic care. Further research is required to answer whether cessation of these therapies is mandatory during ophthalmic treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1398
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Tumors
  • diseases of ocular surface
  • immunology
  • uvea
  • uveitis


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