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Impending anterior ischemic optic neuropathy with elements of retinal vein occlusion in a patient on interferon for polycythemia vera.


We describe the course and likely pathophysiology of impending anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AION) and retinal vein occlusion in a 56-year-old man with polycythemia vera managed with interferon alpha for 2 years. Our patient presented with decreased vision, scintillating scotomata, and floaters. Fundus examination findings and results of a fluorescein angiogram led to the diagnosis of impending AION and retinal vein occlusion. Considering that both polycythemia vera and interferon have possible influences on vascular occlusion and optic disc edema, we stopped interferon treatment and immediately attempted to treat the polycythemia vera empirically with pentoxifylline and any interferon-associated inflammation with prednisone. Our patient experienced complete resolution of fundus abnormalities and return of normal vision within 3 weeks, which may be attributed to our successful treatment of both etiologies. Thus, further study is warranted to elucidate the treatment of both polycythemia vera and interferon-induced impending AION.

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