PURPOSE - We investigated, in nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, the prevalence of various systemic diseases before or at its onset and the incidence of subsequent morbidity and mortality.
METHODS - We investigated prospectively the presence of systemic diseases before or at the onset of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy in 406 patients. The information was obtained by complete medical history and physical examination. The prevalence rates of systemic diseases in young, middle-aged, and elderly groups were compared with those in the general population. We also analyzed the influence of systemic diseases on subsequent morbidity and mortality.
RESULTS - Compared with the prevalences reported in the general population, our patients in each of the three age groups showed a significantly higher prevalence of arterial hypertension (P < or = .02), diabetes mellitus (P < .01), and gastrointestinal ulcer (P < or = .02). Also, middle-aged and elderly patients showed a significantly higher prevalence of ischemic heart disease (P < .01) and thyroid disease (P < .01). Middle-aged patients had significantly higher rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cerebrovascular disease (P < or = .01). After onset of anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, patients with both arterial hypertension and diabetes mellitus had a significantly higher incidence of cerebrovascular disease (P < .01).
CONCLUSIONS - Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy is a multifactorial disease in which some systemic diseases may act as predisposing factors and others as precipitating factors. Patients with anterior ischemic optic neuropathy show no significant increase in mortality, but those with both arterial hypertension and diabetes mellitus have significantly (P < .01) increased incidence of cerebrovascular disease.