Purpose: The visual prognosis in giant cell arteritis (GCA) was evaluated over a 5-year period.
Methods: The authors reviewed the records of all patients with a diagnosis of GCA established at the Mayo Clinic over a 5-year period regarding visual status. Follow-up data for these patients were obtained 5 years later.
Results: Of the 245 patients studied, 34 (14%) permanently lost vision because of GCA. In 32 of these patients, the visual deficit developed before glucocorticoid therapy for GCA was begun; in the 2 other patients, the visual loss occurred after the diagnosis was made and therapy was started. Visual loss progressed in three patients after initiation of oral glucocorticoids, and in five other patients vision improved. After 5 years, the probability of loss of vision developing after initiating oral glucocorticoid treatment was determined to be 1% (Kaplan-Meier technique), and the probability of additional loss was 13% in patients with GCA who had a visual deficit at the time therapy was begun.
Conclusion: The development or progression of visual loss was rare after the initiation of glucocorticoid therapy.