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Acta Ophthalmol. 2017 Feb;95(1):66-73. doi: 10.1111/aos.13305. Epub 2016 Dec 14.

Ophthalmological findings in children with encephalitis.

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Department of Neuropediatrics, Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Neuropediatric Unit, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



To evaluate ophthalmological abnormalities in children with acute encephalitis.


Thirty-six children included in a hospital-based prospectively and consecutively collected cohort of children with acute encephalitis were investigated for ophthalmological abnormalities. The investigation included clinical ophthalmological examination, fundus photography, neuro-ophthalmological examinations as well as visual and stereo acuity. Results on laboratory examinations, clinical findings, neuroimaging and electroencephalography registrations were recorded for all children.


The median age was 4.0 years (Interquartile Range 1.9-9.8). The aetiology was identified in 74% of cases. Three of 36 patients were found to have abnormal ophthalmological findings related to the encephalitis. Transient sixth nerve palsy was seen in a 15-year-old child and transient visual impairment was seen in a 3.5-year-old child. Bilateral miosis and ptosis, i.e. autonomic nerve system symptoms, were seen in an 11-month-old child, with herpes simplex 1 and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antibody encephalitis. All three children recovered and improved their ophthalmological function with time.


Only 3 of 36 children were found to have ophthalmological abnormalities due to encephalitis and they all improved with time. Thus, ophthalmological consultation does not seem to fit in a screening programme for childhood encephalitis but should be considered in selected cases.


central nervous system; infection; neurological; ophthalmological outcome; paediatric

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