Retinal nerve fiber hypertrophy in ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay patients

Mol Vis. 2011:17:1871-6. Epub 2011 Jul 13.


Purpose: To present full ophthalmologic examination and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) photographs of autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) patients showing significant increases in RNFL thickness compared to healthy subjects, but without myelinated retinal fibers.

Methods: The study design was observational case series. Ten eyes of five patients with molecular confirmation of ARSACS underwent a full ophthalmologic examination that included clinical history, visual acuity, biomicroscopy of the anterior segment, gonioscopy, Goldmann applanation tonometry, central corneal ultrasonic pachymetry, ophthalmoscopy of the posterior segment, standard automatic perimetry (Humphrey field), simultaneous stereophotographs of the optic disc after mydriasis, a series of five red-free digital fundus photographs for RNFL evaluation, topographic analysis of the optic disc using the Heidelberg retina tomography, and measurement of peripapillary RNFL thickness with Cirrus optical coherence tomography.

Results: All patients showed abnormal visual fields, normal optic discs with a mild to strikingly increased visibility of RNFL in color stereophotographs, normal Heidelberg tomography, and moderate to markedly increased RNFL thickness in Cirrus tomography (average thickness ranging from 119 μm to 220 μm).

Conclusions: We found evidence of RNFL hypertrophy in ARSACS patients that may have been interpreted as hypermyelinated retinal fibers in previous reports. A revision of ARSACS diagnostic criteria, particularly with regard to retinal alterations, is necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gonioscopy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Spasticity / diagnosis
  • Muscle Spasticity / genetics
  • Muscle Spasticity / pathology
  • Muscle Spasticity / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated / pathology*
  • Observation
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / genetics
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / pathology
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Retina / chemistry*
  • Retina / pathology
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / congenital*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / diagnosis
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / genetics
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / pathology
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / physiopathology
  • Tomography
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Field Tests
  • Visual Fields

Supplementary concepts

  • Spastic ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay type