Ocular abnormalities in Alagille syndrome

M Hingorani, K K Nischal, A Davies, C Bentley, A Vivian, A J Baker, G Mieli-Vergani, A C Bird, W A Aclimandos
Ophthalmology 1999, 106 (2): 330-7

OBJECTIVE: To assess the type and frequency of ocular abnormalities occurring in Alagille syndrome (AS) in a large group of affected patients and their parents and the potential pathogenetic role of fat-soluble vitamin deficiency.

DESIGN: Observational case series.

PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-two children with AS and 23 of their parents participated.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants underwent full ophthalmic examination, including refraction, orthoptic examination, keratometry, slit-lamp examination, and funduscopy. Corneal diameter measurement was performed in a subset of nine and fluorescein angiography in a subset of six. Serum levels of vitamins A and E and cholesterol were measured.

RESULTS: The most common ocular abnormalities in patients with AS were posterior embryotoxon (95%), iris abnormalities (45%), diffuse fundus hypopigmentation (57%, a previously unreported finding), speckling of the retinal pigment epithelium (33%), and optic disc anomalies (76%). Microcornea was not associated with large refractive errors, and visual acuity was not significantly affected by these ocular changes. Vitamin levels were normal. Ocular abnormalities including posterior embryotoxon, iris abnormalities, and optic disc or fundus pigmentary changes were detected in one parent in 36% of cases.

CONCLUSIONS: Alagille syndrome is associated with a characteristic group of ocular findings without apparent serious functional significance and probably unrelated to fat-soluble vitamin deficiency. Simple ophthalmic examination of children with neonatal cholestatic jaundice and their parents should allow early diagnosis of AS, eliminating the need for extensive and invasive investigations.

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