PURPOSE : To describe the systemic and visual characteristics and prognosis in patients with posterior ischemic optic neuropathy (PION). DESIGN : Observational case series.METHODS : Retrospective chart review in a multicenter setting. Seventy-two patients (98 eyes) with a clinical diagnosis of PION. Co-morbid systemic diseases and visual function were recorded at both initial presentation and after mean visual follow-up of 4.1 years and systemic follow-up of 5.4 years. RESULTS : PION occurred in three main settings: in the perioperative period following a variety of surgical procedures (28 patients), associated with giant cell (temporal) arteritis (6 patients), and associated with nonarteritic systemic vascular disease (38 patients). Patients with perioperative and arteritic PION were more likely to have severe, bilateral visual loss that did not improve. Among eyes with nonarteritic PION, 34% experienced improvement in vision, 28% remained stable, and 38% worsened. Among patients with nonarteritic PION, carotid artery disease and a history of stroke (with or without carotid artery disease) were both associated with a statistically significant increased risk of poor final visual outcome. CONCLUSIONS : There are three distinct subtypes of PION: perioperative, arteritic, and nonarteritic. Patients with PION that is unassociated with surgery should undergo an evaluation for systemic vascular diseases, including giant cell arteritis, that may or may not be apparent at the time of vision loss. The visual prognosis for patients with perioperative or arteritic PION is poor, whereas that for nonarteritic PION is similar to that for patients with nonarteritic AION.
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