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Ophthalmology. 1999 Jan;106(1):123-8.

Dominant optic atrophy. Refining the clinical diagnostic criteria in light of genetic linkage studies.

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Department of Ophthalmology, St Thomas' Hospital, London, England, UK.



To describe the clinical findings and refine the clinical diagnostic criteria for dominant optic atrophy based on eight British families in which the diagnosis was confirmed by linkage analysis.


Case series; 92 subjects in 8 pedigrees had both eyes examined.


Family members received a domiciliary examination based on best-corrected visual acuity, color vision using Ishihara and Hardy Richter Rand (HRR) plates, confrontation field testing using a red target, and optic disc evaluation using a direct ophthalmoscope. Genomic DNA was extracted from leukocytes or buccal mucosal cells and genotyped using 12 fluorescently labeled microsatellite markers from the region 3q27-q29.


Subjects were classified clinically as definitely or possibly affected on the basis of the domiciliary examination before genetic analysis, and these results were compared with the haplotype analysis.


Clinically, 43 subjects were identified as definitely affected, 4 as possibly affected, and 45 as unaffected. Visual acuity in affected subjects ranged from 6/6 to count fingers and declined with age. On genetic analysis, a haplotype was identified in each family, which was found in all definitely affected members but not in those regarded as unaffected. The four possibly affected individuals also bore the haplotype that segregated with the disease.


Simple clinical tests are highly efficacious in diagnosing dominant optic atrophy. Contrary to accepted criteria, symptoms begin before the age of 10 years in only 58% of affected individuals. Visual acuity in affected subjects is highly variable. A mild degree of temporal or diffuse pallor of the optic disc and minimal color vision defects, in the context of a family with dominant optic atrophy, are highly suggestive of an individual being affected, even if the visual acuity is normal. This widens the generally accepted diagnostic criteria for this disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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