Pathophysiology and management of glaucoma associated with phakomatoses

J Neurosci Res. 2019 Jan;97(1):57-69. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24241. Epub 2018 Apr 1.


The phakomatoses, encephalotrigeminal angiomatosis (ETA; Sturge-Weber Syndrome), neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1 or von Recklinghausen disease), Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease, tuberous sclerosis (TSC), oculodermal melanocytosis (ODM), and phakomatosis pigmentovascularis are a group of neurocutaneous disorders that have characteristic systemic and ocular manifestations. Through many different mechanisms, they may cause glaucomatous damage of the optic nerve and subsequent vision loss varying from mild to severe. Glaucoma commonly affects patients with ETA (43-72%), orbito-facial NF1 (23-50%), and ODM (10%). Rarely, it may present as neovascular glaucoma in VHL and TSC. In ETA, glaucoma typically occurs ipsilateral to the port-wine stain, which is caused by a mutation in the GNAQ gene. Specifically, mechanical malformation of the anterior chamber angle and elevated episcleral venous pressure has been implicated as causes of glaucoma in ETA. In NF1, which is caused by a mutation in the NF1 tumor suppressor gene, glaucoma commonly occurs ipsilateral to lid plexiform neurofibromas. Histological studies of eyes with NF1 have revealed direct anterior chamber infiltration by neurofibromas, secondary angle closure, fibrovascularization, and developmental angle abnormalities as mechanisms of glaucoma. Lastly, phakomatosis pigmentovascularis is a rare combination of ODM and port-wine stain. Affected patients are at very high risk of developing glaucoma. Despite the many different mechanisms of glaucomatous damage, management follows similar principles as that for congenital glaucoma and primary open angle glaucoma. First-line therapy is topical intraocular pressure-lowering eye drops. Surgical management, including goniotomy, trabeculotomy, trabeculectomy, and tube shunt placement may be required for more severe cases.

Keywords: Sturge-Weber syndrome; neurofibromatosis 1; nevus of Ota; tuberous sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glaucoma / physiopathology*
  • Glaucoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neurocutaneous Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / physiopathology
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / therapy
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome / therapy
  • Tuberous Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Tuberous Sclerosis / therapy
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease / physiopathology
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease / therapy