To review immune checkpoint inhibitor
indications and ophthalmic side effects.
A literature review was performed using a PubMed search for publications between 1990 and 2017.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are designed to treat system malignancies by targeting one of three ligands, leading to T-cell activation for attack against malignant cells. These ligands (and targeted drug) include cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4, ipilimumab
), programmed death protein 1 (PD-1, pembrolizumab
, nivolumab), and programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1, atezolizumab, avelumab, durvalumab). These medications upregulate the immune system and cause autoimmune-like side effects. Ophthalmic side effects most frequently manifest as uveitis
(1%) and dry eye
(1–24%). Other side effects include myasthenia gravis (n = 19 reports), inflammatory orbitopathy (n = 11), keratitis (n = 3), cranial nerve palsy (n = 3), optic neuropathy (n = 2), serous retinal detachment (n = 2), extraocular muscle myopathy (n = 1), atypical chorioretinal lesions (n = 1), immune retinopathy (n = 1), and neuroretinitis (n = 1). Most inflammatory side effects are managed with topical or periocular corticosteroids, but advanced cases require systemic corticosteroids and cessation of checkpoint inhibitor
Checkpoint inhibitors enhance the immune system by releasing inhibition on T cells, with risk of autoimmune-like side effects. Ophthalmologists should include immune-related adverse events in their differential when examining cancer patients with new ocular symptoms.