Ocular manifestations of ataxia-telangiectasia

Am J Ophthalmol. 2002 Dec;134(6):891-6. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(02)01796-8.


Purpose: To report the manifestations of ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) on the ocular sensory and motor systems.

Design: A prospective observational case series.

Methods: In a single tertiary care institition, a comprehensive ophthalmologic evaluation was made of patients with A-T as part of a systemic/neurologic evaluation. Sixty-three A-T patients between the ages of 2 and 28 years were examined.

Results: In 58 A-T patients whose visual acuity could be measured, best-corrected visual acuity in the better eye was 20/20 to 20/30 in 39 (67%), 20/40 to 20/50 in 17 (29%), and 20/60 to 20/80 in 2 (4%). The mean geometric visual acuity of the better eye was 20/31. Telangiectatic vessels were seen in the bulbar conjunctiva in 57 of 63 patients (91%) and on the skin of the face of 21 patients (33%). Twenty-four of 63 patients (38%) had strabismus. Esodeviations were the most common, seen in 15 individuals. Apraxia of horizontal gaze was observed in 19 of 63 patients (30%). Hypometric saccades were evident in 48 (76%), pursuit abnormalities in 43 (63%), and nystagmus in 18 (29%). Accommodation was deficient in the 54 patients in whom it was measured. No posterior segment vascular anomalies were detected.

Conclusions: Visual acuity of 20/50 was present in 96% of the patients we examined. Telangiectatic vessels on the bulbar conjunctiva were seen in nearly every patient, though these are of no functional significance. Ocular motor abnormalities, especially strabismus, are a common finding in A-T. Poor accommodation and abnormal eye movements may lead to reading difficulty reported by patients with A-T.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eye Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity