PURPOSE: To evaluate the ocular abnormalities in patients with clinically diagnosed neurofibromatosis 2 and asymptomatic gene carriers. METHODS: Probands were ascertained through a surgical otolaryngology practice. In a cross-sectional study, we examined 49 patients with neurofibromatosis 2, 30 offspring of patients, and, as a comparison group, 18 parents and siblings of patients with sporadic neurofibromatosis 2. The examination included a complete neuroophthalmic assessment, physical examination, and, for patients and first-degree relatives at risk, cranial and spinal magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium enhancement, if not previously performed. RESULTS: The most common ocular abnormalities were posterior subcapsular or capsular, cortical, or mixed lens opacities in 33 (67%) of 49 patients with neurofibromatosis 2 and retinal hamartomas in 11 (22%). We used segregation analysis to determine the mutation carrier status of six at-risk offspring who were 30 years old or younger in two multigeneration families. Three asymptomatic mutation carriers had cataracts, whereas those who were predicted not to carry the mutation did not have cataracts. Asymptomatic mutation carriers may have developmental abnormalities of the eye that are detectable in childhood or adolescence, a finding that may assist in early diagnosis of the disease. CONCLUSIONS: A variety of ocular abnormalities are present in neurofibromatosis 2, including cataracts, retinal hamartomas, and ocular motor deficits. Many of these are developmental or acquired early in life and may assist in presymptomatic diagnosis. For screening at-risk relatives of patients with neurofibromatosis 2, the types of cataract that are most suggestive of neurofibromatosis 2 are plaque-like posterior subcapsular or capsular cataract and cortical cataract with onset under the age of 30 years.
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