Aims To describe the clinical and radiological features of orbital apex syndromes caused by presumed tuberculosis (TB).
Methods A review of the discharge summaries of all patients seen in the Medical Eye Unit (MEU), St Thomas' Hospital between 1975 and 2006 identified seven patients with a diagnosis of orbital apex syndrome or optic neuropathy attributable to TB. Case notes and radiology were reviewed retrospectively for each patient.
Results All of the patients were born outside the United Kingdom and were HIV negative. Four presented during 2005-6. Six of the 7 patients presented with a visual acuity (VA) of less than counting fingers (CF), but all achieved a VA of 6/9 or better after a median 3 weeks of treatment with anti-tuberculous treatment and systemic corticosteroids. All patients had constitutional symptoms. Chest x-ray and CSF were normal in each case, but MRI was abnormal in 6.
Conclusions We report a recent cluster of tuberculous orbital apex syndromes, in the context of an increasing incidence of TB in the UK. The condition is difficult to diagnose but the combination of high dose corticosteroids and anti-TB medication was rapidly effective and achieved a good outcome in all cases.