Clinical and immunologic characteristics of melanoma-associated retinopathy syndrome: eleven new cases and a review of 51 previously published cases

J Neuroophthalmol. 2001 Sep;21(3):173-87. doi: 10.1097/00041327-200109000-00004.


Objective: To evaluate the signs, symptoms, and immune responses of patients with melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR) syndrome.

Materials and methods: We reviewed the clinical and immunologic findings of 62 MAR syndrome patients. They include 25 patients from our institution (11 not previously reported) and 37 patients reported from other institutions.

Results: There were 33 men and seven women (no gender information is available for the remaining 22 cases). Age at onset of the visual disturbance averaged 57.5 years (range, 30-78). Visual acuity of 20/60 or better was initially present in 82%. Fundus examination was normal in 44%, optic disc pallor was present in 23%, and retinal vessel attenuation was present in 30%. Vitreous cells were present in 30%. The latency from melanoma diagnosis to recognition of MAR syndrome averaged 3.6 years (range, 2 months to 19 years). Seven patients sustained visual improvement with various treatment regimens, especially with intravenous immunoglobulin and cytoreductive surgery (metastasectomy). Indirect immunohistochemical staining of the bipolar layer was typical, but several other retinal elements were also reactive. Tissue from a metastatic melanoma excised from one of the patients expressed antigens that reacted with antiretinal antibodies.

Conclusion: MAR syndrome demonstrates diverse clinical and immunologic features. Treatment, especially intravenous immunoglobulin and cytoreductive surgery (metastasectomy), improves vision in some cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Autoantigens / analysis
  • Electroretinography
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Melanoma / complications
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Optic Disk / pathology
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / etiology
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / immunology*
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / therapy
  • Retina / immunology
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology
  • Retinal Diseases / immunology*
  • Retinal Diseases / therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / complications
  • Skin Neoplasms / immunology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields


  • Autoantigens
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous