Fraser JA, Rueløkke LL, Malmqvist L, Hamann S. Prevalence of optic disc drusen in young patients with nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy: A 10-year retrospective study. Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, Apr 30. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000974. Online ahead of print, 2020.
Background: Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) in young patients (age ≤50) accounts for a minority of all cases of NAION and is more highly associated with crowding of the optic nerves and bilateral involvement than NAION in older patients. Optic disc drusen (ODD) are likewise associated with crowded optic nerves and are located in the prelaminar optic nerve head where they could contribute to NAION pathogenesis. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of ODD in the eyes of young NAION patients using modern imaging methods and to compare it to the baseline 1.8%-2.0% prevalence of ODD in the general population.
Methods: In this retrospective study, all young NAION patients (ages 18-50 years, inclusive) seen in 2 tertiary care neuro-ophthalmology clinics (in London, Canada and Copenhagen, Denmark) in the ten-year interval between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2019, were identified and their medical charts reviewed. Patients were included in the study if ODD were diagnosed by any method (including ophthalmoscopy, ultrasound [US], fundus autofluorescence [FAF], computed tomography [CT], or any optical coherence tomography [OCT] method), or if ODD were excluded by enhanced-depth imaging OCT (EDI-OCT) using the ODD Studies (ODDS) Consortium protocol. The presence or absence of ODD was recorded for each eye.
Results: There were 37 eligible patients (74 eyes). Mean age of NAION onset was 38.5 ± 10.0 years, and 23 patients (62%) were men. Patients had undergone the following methods of ODD detection: ophthalmoscopy (37 patients), EDI-OCT (36 patients), FAF (31 patients), US (9 patients), and CT orbits (8 patients). We found a prevalence of ODD of 56.7% in NAION-affected patients and 53.3% in NAION-affected eyes. Only 35.9% of ODD were visible on ophthalmoscopy. Twenty of 21 ODD patients (95.2%) had bilateral ODD. Age of onset and sex did not differ significantly between the ODD-positive group and the ODD-negative group. EDI-OCT outperformed any combination of ophthalmoscopy, US, FAF, and CT at detecting ODD.
Conclusion: ODD were found with much higher prevalence in young patients with NAION than in the general population and were usually bilateral and buried. ODD may contribute to NAION pathogenesis by exacerbating an underlying compartment syndrome in the crowded “disc at risk.” EDI-OCT may be the best imaging modality for ODD detection in future studies.