Purpose: To describe concentric visual field loss found in the presurgical evaluation of patients with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy and relate the findings to potential causative factors.
Methods: A series of 157 consecutive patients with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy, who had been selected for neurosurgical treatment, was examined in a study set up as a prospective investigation of their visual fields, to document the loss of visual field resulting from surgery. Pre-as well as postoperative visual field examinations were performed following a standard protocol using static and kinetic perimetry. As a number of patients appeared to have an unexplained concentric visual field contraction in the presurgical examination, a relation with potentially causative factors was analyzed in a cross-sectional study of all these patients. Correlations were sought with duration and severity of the seizure disorder, underlying pathology as indicated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and demonstrated by pathology, any type of antiepileptic drug (AED) ever prescribed, and gender.
Results: In this cross-sectional analysis of 157 consecutive patients who were candidates for surgery for temporal lobe epilepsy, absolute concentric contraction of the visual field of 10 to 30 degrees was found in the presurgical examination in 20 (17%) of 118 patients who had ever used vigabatrin (VGB) and in none of 39 who had not had this medication. This difference was significant (p = 0.004). In addition, men [15 (21%) of 72] were significantly more often affected (p = 0.007) than women [five (6%) of 85]. The degree of visual field loss, as indicated by the Esterman grid, showed a positive correlation with the duration of VGB medication. There was no correlation of visual field contraction with a history of meningitis as potential cause of the epilepsy, duration of the epilepsy, status epilepticus in the medical history, or histologic abnormality of the brain tissue removed. Ophthalmologic examination of the patients with concentric contraction revealed no abnormalities. None of the patients with concentric contraction complained spontaneously of their visual field loss.
Conclusions: VGB medication is a causative factor in concentric visual field loss. Visual field examination of patients using VGB should be seriously considered.