A 12-year-old boy presented with 5 day history of blurry vision, ‘wobbly eyes’, tinnitus and difficulty seeing at night. Local ophthalmology noted bilateral optic disc swelling and referred him urgently for neurological investigations.
Clinical Findings: At presentation VA was RE 0.00 and LE 0.2 with normal Ishihara colour vision. His extraocular movements were full without manifest strabismus. Fundoscopy showed bilateral optic disc swelling. Electrophysiology unexpectedly revealed a functionally cone isolated retina with markedly abnormal rod function. Pattern VEPs indicated bilateral macular pathway dysfunction affecting left eye more than right eye. Wide field imaging showed bilateral diffusely scattered yellow-white flecks in the midperiphery of each eye. His kinetic visual fields were moderately restricted bilaterally. MRI showed a Chiari 1 malformation with cerebellar tonsil herniation, but LP opening pressure was normal.
Differential diagnosis included RDH5 retinopathy or vitamin A deficiency. On questioning he reported a diet restricted to only meat and biscuits. His vitamin A levels were subnormal at 0.14 umol/L (reference range 0.9-2.5umol/l) and he was started on high-dose Vitamin A supplements.
Four months after supplementation retinal appearances had normalised, the rod ERGs recovered, nyctalopia and visual field restriction resolved. PVEPs had improved but an element of LE macular pathway dysfunction remained. Optic disc swelling settled leaving mild temporal pallor, particularly of the LE with some RNFL loss.
It is important to recognise nutritional Vitamin A deficiency in children as prompt recognition and treatment can improve symptoms, reverse retinal pathology which we have demonstrated with electrophysiological findings
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