Optic neuritis after anthrax vaccination

Ophthalmology. 2002 Jan;109(1):99-104. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(01)00844-2.


Objective: To report the occurrence of optic neuritis after anthrax vaccination in two patients.

Design: Observational case reports, review of literature.

Methods: Description of clinical history, examination, neuroimaging, and further studies in two patients experiencing optic neuritis in temporal association with anthrax vaccination.

Main outcome measures: Visual acuity, visual fields.

Results: Two patients, 39 and 23 years of age, were seen with acute optic neuritis 1 month and 2 weeks, respectively, after anthrax booster vaccination and successfully treated with intravenous methylprednisolone. The first patient had a typical presentation and course of unilateral retrobulbar optic neuritis with excellent visual recovery. The second patient had a bilateral anterior optic neuritis and has required chronic immunosuppression to maintain his vision. Retinal and optic nerve autoantibodies were present in the second patient. No cross-reactive epitopes between anthrax vaccine and retina/optic nerve were identified.

Conclusion: Optic neuritis is a potential adverse reaction of anthrax vaccination.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Anthrax Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnosis
  • Optic Neuritis / etiology*
  • Vaccination / adverse effects*
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields


  • Anthrax Vaccines