Bilateral optic disk edema and blindness as initial presentation of acute lymphocytic leukemia

George L. Mayo, John E. Carter, Stuart J. McKinnon

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47 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To report bilateral optic disk edema and blindness as the unusual initial presentation of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in an adult. METHODS: A 19-year-old man presented with a history of headaches, back pain, and 10 days of worsening vision that progressed to blindness. Ocular examination revealed light perception acuity in the right eye and no light perception in the left eye. Fundus examination revealed bilateral profound optic disk edema, tortuous vessels, and retinal hemorrhages. Acute lymphocytic leukemia was diagnosed with complete blood count and bone marrow biopsy. Head computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, were normal. Lumbar puncture revealed normal opening pressure. Ocular ultrasonography showed bilateral optic nerve enlargement. DESIGN: Interventional case report and literature review. RESULTS: The presumptive diagnosis of leukemic infiltration of the optic nerves was made, and urgent radiotherapy, intrathecal methotrexate, and intravenous daunorubicin were instituted. Visual acuity improved to hand motions in the right eye. CONCLUSIONS: Acute lymphocytic leukemia can rarely present in adults as visual changes due to leukemic optic nerve infiltration. Radiation treatment should be considered as an urgent treatment modality for this rare condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-142
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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