Bietti Crystalline Dystrophy

In: GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993–2021.
[updated ].


Clinical characteristics: Bietti crystalline dystrophy (BCD) is a chorioretinal degeneration characterized by the presence of yellow-white crystals and/or complex lipid deposits in the retina and (to a variable degree) the cornea. Progressive atrophy and degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) / choroid lead to symptoms similar to those of other forms of retinal degeneration that fall under the category of retinitis pigmentosa and allied disorders, namely: reduced visual acuity, poor night vision, abnormal retinal electrophysiology, visual field loss, and often impaired color vision. Marked asymmetry between eyes is not uncommon. Onset is typically during the second to third decade of life, but ranges from the early teenage years to beyond the third decade. With time, loss of peripheral visual field, central acuity, or both result in legal blindness in most if not all affected individuals.

Diagnosis/testing: The diagnosis of BCD is based on the finding of numerous small, glistening yellow-white retinal crystals associated with atrophy of the RPE, pigment clumps, and sclerosis of the choroidal vessels; variable crystalline deposits in the corneal limbus; varying degrees of rod and cone dysfunction on electroretinography; visual field defects; and reflective dots visualized by spectral domain optical coherence tomography. Identification of biallelic pathogenic variants in CYP4V2 by molecular genetic testing can confirm the diagnosis if clinical features are inconclusive.

Management: Treatment of manifestations: Referral to low-vision specialists and organizations/professionals trained to work with the visually impaired.

Surveillance: Periodic ophthalmologic examination to monitor disease progression and periodic visual field testing particularly as it relates to determination of driving eligibility and eligibility for government programs and/or disability.

Genetic counseling: BCD is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. At conception, each sib of an affected individual has a 25% chance of being affected, a 50% chance of being an asymptomatic carrier, and a 25% chance of being unaffected and not a carrier. Carrier testing for at-risk relatives and prenatal testing for pregnancies at increased risk are possible if the pathogenic variants in the family are known.

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