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Arch Ophthalmol. 2004 Jan;122(1):48-53.

Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy in eyes with optic disc drusen.

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  • 1Midwest Eye Institute, Indianapolis, IN 46280, USA.



There have been anecdotal reports of anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AION) occurring in eyes with optic disc drusen (ODD), but the clinical features of this condition have not been well characterized.


To better describe the clinical features of AION associated with ODD and to compare the clinical features of this condition with those of "garden variety" nonarteritic AION.


We reviewed the medical records of 20 patients who experienced an episode of AION in an eye with ODD. In 4 patients, both eyes were affected; thus, 24 eyes were studied. The diagnosis of ODD was made by ophthalmoscopic identification, orbital ultrasonography, or computed tomographic scanning. We recorded age, sex, vascular risk factors, symptoms, visual acuity, visual fields, and results of the follow-up examination in all patients. These findings were compared with data from previously reported series of patients with nonarteritic AION.


Our 20 patients included 14 men and 6 women (age range, 18-69 years; mean, 49.4 years). Vascular risk factors were identified in 10 patients (50%). Three patients reported episodes of transient visual loss before their fixed deficit. The visual acuity at the initial examination was 20/60 or better in 15 (62%) of the 24 eyes; 8 had a visual acuity of 20/20. The predominant pattern of visual field loss was an altitudinal or arcuate defect in 19 (79%) and a centrocecal scotoma in 5 (21%) of the 24 eyes. There was subjective worsening of vision before the initial neuro-ophthalmic examination in 11 eyes (46%) and objective documentation of progression in 7 eyes (29%). The final visual acuity was 20/40 or better in 13 (62%) of 21 eyes and 20/200 or worse in 3 (14%) of 21 eyes.


Our patients were strikingly similar to those with nonarteritic AION unassociated with drusen in regard to prevalence of vascular risk factors, pattern of visual field loss, and occurrence of a subsequent similar event in the fellow eye. In contrast, however, patients with ODD-AION were younger than those with nonarteritic AION, were more likely to report preceding episodes of transient visual obscuration, and enjoyed a more favorable visual outcome.

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