Visual recovery after a year of craniopharyngioma-related amaurosis: report of a nine-year-old child and a review of pathophysiologic mechanisms.

K. L. Stark, B. Kaufman, B. C. Lee, J. Primack, L. Tychsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The probability of visual recovery in tumor-related optic neuropathy usually correlates with the severity and duration of optic pathway compromise. Recovery of visual acuity to normal levels is unexpected after profound loss of vision extending for a period of weeks and months. METHODS: A 9-year-old girl who had neurosurgical resection of a craniopharyngioma compressing the optic chiasm and optic tract was followed up serially with neuroimaging and clinical examinations over a 6-year period. RESULTS: Within 3 months of the diagnosis of craniopharyngioma, the girl's vision was reduced to no-light-perception blindness when she viewed with the more involved eye. The blindness correlated with an amaurotic (i.e., >3.6 log unit) relative afferent pupillary defect and an absence of any response when tested with visual field perimetry. After more than a year of total blindness and cessation of all neurosurgical and radiation therapy, visual acuity recovered to a normal level (20/25), the afferent pupillary defect improved, and sensitivity in a portion of the temporal hemivisual field was restored. In the follow-up that has extended for 5 years from the time of recovery, stability of the restored vision has been documented. CONCLUSION: Children who have tumor-related loss of vision due to damage to the anterior visual pathways may be capable of recovery after intervals of blindness that would be considered irreversible in adults. The mechanism of the recovery in our patient may have been decompression-related restoration of axoplasmic flow, followed by gradual remyelination of visual fibers, which allowed reorganization of connections to the lateral geniculate nucleus to optimize synaptic transmission.

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