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Original Investigation
October 15, 2020

Assessment of Pediatric Optic Neuritis Visual Acuity Outcomes at 6 Months

Writing Committee for the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG)
JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online October 15, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.4231
Key Points

Question  What are the 6-month visual acuity (VA) outcomes of children with optic neuritis and is it feasible to enroll a sufficient number of participants for a randomized clinical trial?

Findings  Among 44 children enrolled over 22 months in this cohort study, 48% had isolated cases of optic neuritis, 52% had optic neuritis associated with neurologic autoimmune diagnoses, and the mean presenting distance high-contrast VA was 0.95 logMAR (approximately 20/200). VA improved by a mean of approximately 8 lines after 6 months.

Meaning  Relatively few children with optic neuritis were enrolled in this study over 2 years, which suggests that poor VA at presentation markedly improves in most children by 6 months after onset.

Abstract

Importance  Optic neuritis (ON) in children is uncommon. There are limited prospective data for visual acuity (VA) outcomes, associated diseases, and neuroimaging findings. Prospective data from a large sample would be useful for counseling families on treatment decisions and prognosis.

Objective  To prospectively study children with a first episode of ON, describe VA after 6 months, and ascertain the network’s (Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group and Neuro-Ophthalmology Research Disease Investigator Consortium) ability to enroll pediatric patients with ON prospectively.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This nonrandomized cohort study was conducted from September 20, 2016, to July 20, 2018, at 23 sites in the United States and Canada in pediatric ophthalmology or neuro-ophthalmology clinics. A total of 44 children (aged 3-15 years) presented with a first episode of ON (visual loss, pain on eye movements, or both) within 2 weeks of symptom onset and at least 1 of the following in the affected eye: a distance high-contrast VA (HCVA) deficit of at least 0.2 logMAR below age-based norms, diminished color vision, abnormal visual field, or optic disc swelling. Exclusion criteria included preexisting ocular abnormalities or a previous episode of ON.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Primary outcomes were monocular HCVA and low-contrast VA at 6 months. Secondary outcomes were neuroimaging, associated diagnoses, and antibodies for neuromyelitis optica and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein.

Results  A total of 44 children (mean age [SD], 10.2 [3.5] years; 26 boys [59%]; 23 White individuals [52%]; 54 eyes) were enrolled in the study. Sixteen patients (36%) had bilateral ON. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed white matter lesions in 23 children (52%). Of these children, 8 had myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein–associated demyelination (18%), 7 had acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (16%), 5 had multiple sclerosis (11%), and 3 had neuromyelitis optica (7%). The baseline mean HCVA was 0.95 logMAR (20/200), which improved by a mean 0.76 logMAR (95% CI, 0.54-0.99; range, –0.70 to 1.80) to 0.12 logMAR (20/25) at 6 months. The baseline mean distance low-contrast VA was 1.49 logMAR (20/640) and improved by a mean 0.72 logMAR (95% CI, 0.54-0.89; range, –0.20 to 1.50) to 0.73 logMAR (20/100) at 6 months. Baseline HCVA was worse in younger participants (aged <10 years) with associated neurologic autoimmune diagnoses, white matter lesions, and in those of non-White race and non-Hispanic ethnicity. The data did not suggest a statistically significant association between baseline factors and improvement in HCVA.

Conclusions and Relevance  The study network did not reach its targeted enrollment of 100 pediatric patients with ON over 2 years. This indicates that future treatment trials may need to use different inclusion criteria or plan a longer enrollment period to account for the rarity of the disease. Despite poor VA at presentation, most children had marked improvement by 6 months. Associated neurologic autoimmune diagnoses were common. These findings can be used to counsel families about the disease.

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