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J Neuroophthalmol. 2011 Jun;31(2):153-4. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0b013e3181fb4cf9.

Occult temporal arteritis in a 54-year-old man.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


A 54-year-old white man with a remote history of pars planitis reported transient monocular visual loss (TMVL) in the left eye on standing. The following week he experienced multiple similar episodes. He denied associated systemic symptoms. Initial examination showed old peripheral retinal vascular sheathing and delayed retinal arterial filling time. Complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and MRI studies of the head and neck were normal. One week later, there were multiple cotton wool spots in the posterior pole, a relative afferent pupillary defect, and subtle visual field loss in the left eye. Evaluation for infectious, inflammatory, or embolic etiologies was nonrevealing. Biopsy of the prominent but nontender temporal arteries showed granulomatous inflammation, fragmentation, and duplication of the internal elastic lamina consistent with the temporal arteritis (TA). Radiography and MRI of the chest revealed dilation of the ascending aorta. The patient began treatment with high-dose oral steroids with resolution of his TMVL and retinal cotton wool spots and decrease in the size of the temporal arteries. Our case demonstrates the importance of considering TA in the setting of TMVL, visual loss, cotton wool spots, or dilated nontender temporal arteries in an otherwise asymptomatic patient even with normal inflammatory markers. Long-term follow-up is essential in unusual cases such as this one, given the high risk of ocular and systemic morbidity with TA.

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