Radiation-induced injury to the visual pathway

Radiother Oncol. 1994 Jan;30(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/0167-8140(94)90005-1.


Radiation-induced injury to the visual pathway was reviewed in a cohort of patients treated for various cancers of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses between 1969 and 1985. The study subjects consisted of 219 patients, 137 men and 82 women, in whom detailed records were available on the extent of orbital shielding, treatment plan for estimating doses delivered to various optic structures, and visual acuity follow-up information. There was a wide range in doses administered to various optic structures because patients with different primary lesion types were included and the radiotherapy techniques used varied during this era. The endpoint of the study was visual acuity < 20/100. The Cox proportional hazard model was used to assess the influence of various factors on the latent time to visual impairment and to fit the LQ model to the failure-time data. Actuarial curves showing the proportion of patients with visual impairment as a function of dose and time were generated. Corneal injury occurred in 24 of the 49 patients treated with the 3-field technique without any orbital shielding; variables affecting the incidence of cornea injury were total radiation dose and chemotherapy. Symptomatic retinopathy was diagnosed in 7 of 77 patients who received irradiation to a relatively large retinal surface, but no variables were found to correlate with this complication. Eight patients developed ipsilateral blindness due to optic neuropathy and 11 patients had bilateral visual impairment secondary to chiasm injury. The total radiation dose was identified as the predominant determinant. None of patients receiving a dose of < 50 Gy developed optic neuropathy or chiasm injury.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / etiology
  • Corneal Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lacrimal Apparatus / radiation effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nose Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Optic Chiasm / radiation effects
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / etiology
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiation Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Visual Pathways / radiation effects*