Vision Loss Secondary to Facial and Periorbital Steroid Injection: A Systematic Review

Sally S.E. Park, Anne Barmettler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The risk of ophthalmic and retinal artery occlusions following facial and periorbital steroid injection has not been explored. This systematic review examines the prevalence, risk factors, and treatment outcomes of steroid-induced vision losses. Methods: A literature search in Evidence Based Medicine Reviews, MEDLINE, Embase, Pubmed, ClinicalTrials, and WHO ICTRP was performed for vision loss following facial and periorbital corticosteroid injections through July 2020. Results: Of 35 case reports, series, and reviews, 49 patients (56 eyes) with steroid-induced vision loss were analyzed. Injection sites predominantly involved the nose (45%) and periocular regions (10%). The most common type of steroid is triamcinolone (54%). Most cases were unilateral, except 7 cases of bilateral vision losses, 4 of which resulted from unilateral steroid injection. Symptoms were reported during or immediately after injections in 49% of cases. Most occlusions occurred in the ophthalmic (53%) or central retinal artery (33%). Vision most commonly presented as no light perception (37%), and 90% were 20/200 or worse. Final visual outcomes varied from 20/200 or worse (56%), 20/40 or better (30%), to in between (13%). Conclusion: Most vision losses resulted from steroid injections in the nasal and periorbital area. Triamcinolone was the most common offending agent, likely due to large particle size, low solubility, and extensive particle aggregation. Dexamethasone has the opposite pharmacologic properties and has never been reported in association with vascular occlusion related vision loss. Careful steroid selection, injection techniques, and treatment strategies should be considered to prevent and treat artery occlusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-521
Number of pages11
JournalOphthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Ophthalmology


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