A Ramanathan, A Gaur
exudative retinal detachment, posterior scleritis
A Ramanathan, A Gaur. An Atypical Presentation of Posterior Scleritis. The Internet Journal of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2009 Volume 8 Number 2.
We report a case of an unusual presentation of posterior scleritis. A 13 year old girl presented with progressive monocular visual loss over one week. She did not complain of pain as a significant symptom. Examination of the fundus revealed a pale raised subretinal lesion temporal to the fovea with overlying exudative retinal detachment. A B-scan ultrasound confirmed choroidal and scleral thickening, retinal detachment and fluid in the sub-Tenon’s space. Fundus fluorescein angiography showed multiple areas of progressively increasing hyperfluorescence (leakage of dye) temporal to the fovea. Systemic evaluation of this patient did not reveal an underlying systemic disorder. The patient was commenced on high dose oral corticosteroids which resulted in resolution of symptoms and clinical features. She made full visual recovery after six weeks of treatment. This case illustrates an interesting presentation of posterior scleritis in a 13 year old and explores clinical features, treatment and prognosis in this age group.
A 13 year old girl presented with a 1 week history of progressive visual loss affecting her left eye with an associated intermittent dull ache around the eye. She did not give a history of a preceding flu-like illness or trauma to the eye. She had no significant past medical or ocular history. Best corrected visual acuity in the left eye was counting fingers at 1 meter and 6/6 in the right eye. Examination on the anterior segment was unremarkable in both eyes. In particular, there was no evidence of proptosis or painful restriction of eye movements.
Dilated fundoscopy of the left eye revealed a pale subretinal raised lesion temporal to the fovea with overlying exudative retinal detachment involving the macula (figure 1a). B-scan ultrasonography showed diffuse thickening of the choroid with low acoustic reflectivity. The sclera showed thickening and there was evidence of fluid in the sub-Tenon’s space (figure 1b).
Fundus fluorescein angiography showed multiple areas of progressively increasing hyperfluoresence temporal to the fovea with pooling of dye within the exudative retinal detachment (figure 2a-c).
General physical examination was unremarkable. Further investigations including full blood count, ESR, CRP, Rheumatoid factor, ANA, ANCA, ACE were within normal range. Serological tests for Toxoplasmosis, Lyme disease and Syphilis were negative. In addition, urinalysis and chest x-ray showed no abnormalities.
The patient was commenced on 1mg/ kg/ day Prednisolone, starting at 40 mg which was tapered to 35 mg and 30mg at 1 week intervals. After 2 weeks of systemic steroid treatment, visual acuity improved to 6/18. Fundoscopy revealed resolution of the retinal detachment, pigment deposition at the macula and a small area of residual inflammation temporal to the fovea (figure 3a). B-scan ultrasonography showed resolution of the retinal detachment and sub-Tenon’s fluid (figure 3b). The steroids were gradually tapered down at 5mg per week and her vision improved to 6/6 after six weeks of treatment.
On initial presentation, fundus examination revealed an exudative retinal detachment together with a pale whitish raised subretinal lesion. A preliminary diagnosis of a haemangioma causing an exudative retinal detachment was made. There were no ocular clinical features such as painful eye movement or positive anterior segment findings to point towards an inflammatory cause. The B-scan ultrasound imaging proved to be a vital diagnostic tool in this case. It demonstrated choroidal and scleral thickening and the T- sign, diagnostic of posterior scleritis. Thickening of the choroid with low acoustic reflectivity excluded a choroidal haemangioma. Another relevant differential diagnosis in this case would be Acute Multifocal Placoid Pigment Epitheliopathy (AMPPE). However, the clinical features did not include a history of prodromal symptoms and the fluorescein angiographic findings did not show areas of choroidal hypofluorescence characteristic of AMPPE.
Based on clinical features of a dull intermittent eye pain and ultrasound findings, a diagnosis of posterior scleritis was made. The patient was given a course of systemic steroids after which she made a full clinical recovery. Further investigations did not find an underlying associated connective tissue disorder.
Posterior scleritis is a relatively uncommon inflammatory disorder, frequently associated with systemic autoimmune diseases and has the potential to cause irreversible visual loss if left untreated.1 Studies have highlighted the varied clinical presentation of posterior scleritis2 and its ability to mimic other disorders such as orbital lymphoma3 or choroidal melanoma.4 Pain has been documented as a cardinal and commonly predominant feature of posterior scleritis.2 However, in this case, the patient complained of only a mild intermittent ache around the eye. Previous cases have been reported where pain has been absent in the presentation of posterior scleritis 5,6,7 which, in turn, high-light the importance of B-scan ultrasound as a diagnostic investigation for posterior scleritis. Interestingly, an underlying systemic disorder was not found in these reports of an 18 and 21 year old with posterior scleritis 6,5 as with the case reported here and clinical abnormalities resolved with oral prednisolone treatment. It has been previously noted that cases of posterior scleritis in adolescents do not appear to be associated with an underlying systemic disease in contrast to the adult variant.8 Posterior scleritis in children, even in its severe form, has a good visual prognosis with the commencement of early appropriate treatment.8,9 Patients over the age of 50 years with posterior scleritis are more likely to experience sight loss and have an associated systemic disease which requires aggressive immunosupressive treatment.1
Treatment options for posterior scleritis include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and oral corticosteroids. Patients who do not respond to these treatments are offered immunosuppressive therapy such as Methotrexate or Azothioprine.10 In refractory cases, immunomodulatory drugs such as Infliximab may be used.11
This case illustrates that posterior scleritis can present with reduced vision without pain as a predominant feature. As it is a rare treatable condition with potentially serious consequences, a high index of suspicion is necessary to make the diagnosis in unusually presenting cases as with this young 13 year old girl. The report also demonstrates the pathognomic features of posterior scleritis on B-scan ultrasound.