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Acta Ophthalmol. 2009 Mar;87(2):204-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2008.01193.x. Epub 2008 May 27.

Systemic lupus erythematosus-associated optic neuritis: clinical experience and literature review.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Suao Veterans Hospital, I-Lan, Taiwan.



This study aimed to evaluate the visual outcome of optic neuritis in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).


A retrospective, case-observational study was conducted by reviewing eight patients with SLE-associated optic neuritis from January 1986 to October 2004. The demographic data, clinical manifestations, laboratory data, medical management and disease courses of these eight patients were retrospectively analysed. Main outcome measurements included final visual acuity (VA) and relapse of optic neuritis. Statistical analyses were made using the chi-square test and a linear regression model. The English-language literature on SLE-associated optic neuritis was reviewed.


Initial visual loss was severe in SLE-associated optic neuritis. Seven patients (87%) had VA < 20/200 at onset. All patients received steroid pulse therapy followed by oral steroid tapering. Final visual outcome was highly variable, ranging from the complete recovery of VA in four patients, to partial recovery in one and poor recovery in three. Better visual recovery occurred in patients who received earlier treatment (within 10 days). However, longer duration of steroid administration was found to have no significant benefit on visual outcome.


Systemic lupus erythematosus-associated optic neuritis is not common. However, it is important that ophthalmologists differentiate SLE-associated optic neuritis from idiopathic optic neuritis because of the severe visual impairment and steroid dependence associated with the former. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are important for restoring visual function in these patients.

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