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Visual performance in giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis) after 1 year of therapy.

Author(s): Kupersmith MJ, Langer R, Mitnick H, Spiera R, Spiera H, Richmond M, Paget S

Affiliation(s): INN at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY 10128, USA.

Publication date & source: 1999-07, Br J Ophthalmol., 83(7):796-801.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Multicenter Study; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

AIMS: To determine if patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) treated with corticosteroids develop delayed visual loss or drug related ocular complications. METHODS: In a multicentre prospective study patients with GCA (using precise diagnostic criteria) had ophthalmic evaluations at predetermined intervals up to 1 year. The dose of corticosteroid was determined by treating physicians, often outside the study, with the daily dose reduced to the equivalent of 30-40 mg of prednisone within 5 weeks. Subsequently, treatment guidelines suggested that the dose be reduced as tolerated or the patient was withdrawn from steroids in a period not less than 6 months. RESULTS: At presentation, of the 22 patients enrolled, seven patients had nine eyes with ischaemic injury. Four eyes had improved visual acuity by two lines or more within 1 month of starting corticosteroids. No patients developed late visual loss as the steroid dose was reduced. At 1 year the visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, colour vision, and threshold perimetry were not significantly different from the 4-5 week determinations. At 1 year, there were no significant cataractous or glaucomatous changes. At 2 months, there was no difference in systemic complications between patients who received conventional dose (60-80 mg per day) or very high doses (200-1000 mg per day) of corticosteroids at the start or early in the course. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with GCA related visual loss can improve with treatment. Corticosteroids with starting doses of 60-1000 mg per day, with reduction to daily doses of 40-50 mg per day given for 4-6 weeks, and gradual dose reduction thereafter, as clinically permitted, did not result in delayed visual loss. There were no significant drug related ophthalmic complications.

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