Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of intravenous cyclophosphamide pulse therapy in patients with optic neuritis associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Patients and methods: Ten consecutive patients with optic neuritis due to SLE whose condition was refractory to corticosteroids and oral immunosuppressants were treated with intravenous cyclophosphamide (0.5 to 1.0 g/m2) monthly for 6 months.
Results: All patients had bilateral eye involvement. One eye was legally blind, and 13 eyes could see only hand movements or count fingers. Six patients had evidence of the secondary antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. Complete recovery in visual acuity occurred in 10 eyes (50%), and a partial response occurred in six eyes (30%); four eyes (20%) had no response. Complete response in the field tests occurred in eight eyes (40%), with a partial response in nine eyes (45%); no improvement occurred in three eyes (15%).
Conclusions: Intravenous cyclophosphamide pulse therapy seems to be an effective treatment for optic neuritis refractory to corticosteroids, oral immunosuppressants, or both. A randomized controlled trial will be necessary to confirm our results.