Ocular features of multiple system atrophy

Maria D. Garcia, Jose S. Pulido, Elizabeth A. Coon, John J. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to gain better understanding of the ocular manifestations of multiple system atrophy (MSA), a neurodegenerative disorder rarely studied in terms of its ophthalmologic features. We performed a retrospective case series (1/1/05–12/31/14) to search for patients seen at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, who had mention of MSA in the medical record and an eye examination, which yielded 285 cases. Of the 285, we identified 39 cases of true MSA. Each of these 39 patients was further reviewed for ocular abnormalities potentially related to MSA. Ocular findings potentially attributable to MSA were found in 64% of patients. Most common were dry eye (N = 14), conjugate eye movement abnormalities (N = 13), and ocular misalignment (N = 7). One patient had dry eye and monocular diplopia from trichiasis due to cicatricial pemphigoid, one had bilateral optic atrophy, and one had Adie's tonic pupil. Conjugate eye movement abnormalities (33%) and ocular misalignment (18%) were more common in patients with MSA-C. Patients with ocular findings, excluding dry eye, had a significantly shorter lifespan from time of initial neurologic symptoms to death. Our study confirms conjugate eye movement abnormalities and misalignment are common ocular findings in patients with MSA. Bilateral optic atrophy and cicatricial pemphigoid are possibly attributable to the disease. Ocular manifestations in MSA predict a poor prognosis as these patients have a significantly shorter lifespan. Therefore, we recommend patients with MSA have a comprehensive neuro-ophthalmologic exam at time of diagnosis, and thereafter, to screen for eye findings that may indicate a shorter lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-239
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Cerebellar dysfunction
  • Degeneration
  • Life expectancy
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Ocular findings
  • Parkinsonism
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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