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Hyperhomocysteinaemia in young patients with non-arteritic anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy


BACKGROUND/AIM Elevated plasma homocysteine is a newly identified vascular risk factor among patients under age 55 years with cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, or peripheral vascular disease. This study sought to evaluate retrospectively the plasma homocysteine status among healthy younger patients with ischaemic optic disc disease.

METHODS 12 non-diabetic patients who had been diagnosed with non-arteritic anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy (NAION) before the age of 50 years were identified from chart review. None had experienced previous ischaemic cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, or peripheral vascular events. Plasma homocysteine, CBC, renal function, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate levels were sampled in the fasting state.

RESULTS Two of 12 patients (17%) had hyperhomocysteinaemia. Both had experienced NAION in both eyes with recurrent episodes. Neither patient was hypertensive nor had a smoking history. One of these two patients had mild hypercholesterolaemia which did not warrant medication.

CONCLUSIONS Elevated plasma homocysteine may be associated with NAION. An evaluation for hyperhomocysteinaemia should be considered in patients with NAION who do not have the typical risk factor such as older age, diabetes, hypertension, or tobacco use. It should also be considered in young patients with bilateral or recurrent attacks of NAION.

  • homocysteine
  • optic neuropathy
  • ischaemic optic neuropathy

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