Neuro-ophthalmic manifestations of the syndrome of ophthalmoplegia, ataxia and areflexia: a review

Acta Neurol Scand. 1994 Mar;89(3):157-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1994.tb01654.x.


Controversy regarding the nosological position of the syndrome of ophthalmoplegia, ataxia and areflexia (Miller Fisher syndrome) exists. The oculomotor dysfunction was presumed to represent an unusually symmetrical peripheral cranial nerve dysfunction. To investigate the neuro-ophthalmic manifestations in this rare syndrome we reviewed 109 reports describing 243 cases. The ophthalmoplegia was remarkable in its constant association with a cerebellar type ataxia. It was described to be remarkably symmetrical at all stages of development and recovery. From the early description of the syndrome by Fisher the ophthalmoplegia was observed to evolve as a symmetrical failure of upgaze followed by loss of lateral gaze and last by downgaze, recovery develops in the opposite pattern. Despite the severe nature of the ophthalmoplegia, 58 patients were reported to have sparing of downgaze and 192 (79%) had relative sparing of the eye lids. Active lid retraction and preserved Bell's phenomenon, despite upgaze paralysis, were described in 22 and 15 patients respectively. Upper lid jerks were described in 2, Parinaud's syndrome in 2, convergence spasm in 6, internuclear ophthalmoplegia in 15 and horizontal dissociated nystagmus in 11. Interestingly 23 were reported to present with paralysis of abduction progressing to lateral gaze paralysis and 5 had paralysis of abduction and contralateral gaze paralysis. Four had defective vestibulo-ocular reflex despite recovery of upgaze, 10 had central type nystagmus including rotatory, retractory and rebound nystagmus. Relative preservation of optokinetic nystagmus and preservation of vestibulo-ocular reflex despite an otherwise complete ophthalmoplegia were reported in 6 and 2 patients respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blepharoptosis / physiopathology
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / physiopathology
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / physiopathology
  • Oculomotor Nerve / physiopathology*
  • Ophthalmoplegia / physiopathology*
  • Reflex, Abnormal* / physiology
  • Syndrome