Visual outcomes in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 and orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibromas

Robert A. Avery, Eva Dombi, Kelly A. Hutcheson, Maria T. Acosta, Andrea M. Baldwin, William P. Madigan, Andrea Gillespie, Edmond J. Fitzgibbon, Roger J. Packer, Brigitte C. Widemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: To describe the visual outcomes and volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (3D MRI) in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibromas. Design: Multicenter retrospective case series. Methods: Two institutions with dedicated NF1 clinical research programs queried their established clinical databases for children with orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibromas. Visual acuity, refractive error, ambylopia, and treatment history were abstracted. Extent of orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibroma involvement was assessed clinically and with 3D MRI analysis. Children with optic pathway gliomas or ocular causes of decreased visual acuity (ie, cataracts, glaucoma) other than strabismus or anisometropia were excluded. Results: Twenty-one children met inclusion criteria (median age 8 years, range 0.33-23 years). Orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibroma location was classified as isolated eyelid (n = 6), eyelid and orbit (n = 7), orbit and temporal region (n = 7), or diffuse orbit (n = 1). Three subjects had bilateral orbital involvement. Amblyopia secondary to the orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibroma was present in 13 subjects (62%) and was caused by strabismus (n = 2, 10%), occlusion from ptosis (n = 9, 43%), or anisometropia (n = 9, 43%), or a combination of factors (n = 6, 29%). MRI-derived volumes were measured in 19 subjects (median 41.8 mL, range 2.7-754 mL). All subjects with amblyopia had orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibroma volumes greater than 10 mL. Conclusion: In our series, amblyopia occurs in more than half of NF1 children with orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibromas, most commonly because of ptosis and anisometropia. The 3D MRI analysis allowed for sensitive measurement of orbitotemporal plexiform neurofibroma size, and larger volumes were associated with development of amblyopia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1089-1094.e1
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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