Author(s): Gerling J, Meyer JH, Kommerell G
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Abstract BACKGROUND: We analyzed the value of visual-field defects in the differential diagnosis of optic neuritis (ON) and non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AION). METHODS: Ninety-nine consecutive patients with acute-onset optic neuropathy formed the basis for this study. Compressive and vasculitic neuropathies were excluded. Eighty-six patients fulfilled the criteria for either ON (50 patients): < or = 35 years, normal disk, recovery of visual function, or AION (36 patients): > or = 60 years, swelling of the disk, no recovery of visual function. Without knowledge of other clinical data, visual fields obtained by Gold-mann perimetry were classified into five types of defects (forced choice). With the correct diagnosis at hand, fields were reviewed for characteristic features. RESULTS: Forced-choice classification into defect types [\%]: Central scotoma ON 68, AION 18; superior altitudinal defect ON 13 AION 7; inferior altitudinal defect ON 8, AION 52; peripheral defect ON 1, AION 5; diffuse defect ON 10, AION 18. Search for pathognomonic defects: a scotoma centered on the fixation point with a sloping border occurred exclusively in ON (25 of 50 patients). An inferior altitudinal defect with a sharp border along the horizontal meridian, particularly in the nasal periphery, occurred only in AION (10 of 36 patients). A steep centrocecal scotoma occurred in 3 of the 36 AION cases and not at all in the ON cases. Scotomas in the center breaking through to the periphery, superior altitudinal defects (with a sloping border along the horizontal meridian) and diffuse depressions verging on blindness occurred in both ON and AION. CONCLUSION: A sctoma centered on the fixation point with a sloping border is highly characteristic of ON, while an inferior altitudinal defect with a sharp border along the horizontal meridian, particularly in the nasal periphery, is highly characteristic of AION. To identify these diagnostic criteria, it can be necessary to examine full fields. With restriction of perimetry to 30 degrees a large central scotoma can be mistaken for a diffuse defect and the border in the nasal periphery can be missed.
This article was published in Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol
and referenced in Journal of Neurology & Neurophysiology