Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Ophthalmol. 1995 Nov;120(5):597-604.

Ocular and systemic manifestations of cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis.

Author information

Institute of Ophthalmology, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis is a storage disease that usually leads to severe mental and neurologic deterioration before the diagnosis and start of treatment are established. We identified major ocular and systemic characteristics that may enable a diagnosis to be made earlier.


Ten patients (group 1) of the University Hospital Nijmegen, with a diagnosis of cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis, were re-examined for detailed ocular and major clinical manifestations. Meanwhile, we looked for similar but undiagnosed cases in patients (group 2) who visited the Institute of Ophthalmology during a 12-month period.


A diagnosis of cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis had been made in the patients of group 1 at an average age of 40 years (range, 33 to 48 years). Subsequently, six new cases (group 2) were diagnosed in patients 7 to 37 years old (average age, 18 years). Bilateral cataract was the major ocular manifestation in all 16 patients. Small irregular corticonuclear opacities, anterior polar cataracts, and dense posterior subcapsular cataracts were diagnosed at various ages (mean, 18 years; range, 4 to 40 years). Four patients showed clinical signs of optic neuropathy, whereas retinal function was normal in all patients. Other major clinical signs included a history of chronic diarrhea (since childhood), mental deterioration (mean age, 23 years), neurologic deterioration (mean age, 31 years), and tendon xanthomas (mean age, 37 years).


Appropriate biochemical investigations for cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis should be performed in patients with unexplained juvenile or early-onset adult cataracts, especially if these cataracts are associated with chronic diarrhea since infancy, mental retardation or deterioration, neurologic dysfunction, or xanthomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center