Am J Ophthalmol. 2022 Dec 18;249:99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2022.12.014. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: To investigate the clinical and molecular genetic features of childhood-onset Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) to gain a better understanding of the factors influencing the visual outcome in this atypical form of the disease.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
METHODS: We retrospectively included 2 cohorts of patients with LHON with onset of visual loss before the age of 12 years from Italy and the United Kingdom. Ophthalmologic evaluation, including best-corrected visual acuity, orthoptic evaluation, slit-lamp biomicroscopy, visual field testing, and optical coherence tomography, was considered. Patients were classified based on both the age of onset and the pattern of visual loss.
RESULTS: A total of 68 patients were stratified based on the age of onset of visual loss: group 1 (<3 years): 14 patients (20.6%); group 2 (≥3 to <9 years): 27 patients (39.7%); and group 3 (≥9 to ≤12 years): 27 patients (39.7%). Patients in group 2 achieved a better visual outcome than those in group 3. Patients in groups 1 and 2 had better mean deviation on visual field testing than those in group 3. The mean ganglion cell layer thickness on optical coherence tomography in group 2 was higher than those in groups 1 and 3. Patients were also categorized based on the pattern of visual loss as follows: Subacute Bilateral: 54 patients (66.7%); Insidious Bilateral: 14 patients (17.3%); Unilateral: 9 patients (11.1%); and Subclinical Bilateral: 4 patients (4.9%).
CONCLUSIONS: Children who lose vision from LHON before the age of 9 years have a better visual prognosis than those who become affected in later years, likely representing a “form frustre” of the disease.