Waardenburg Syndrome: Iris and Choroidal Hypopigmentation: Findings on Anterior and Posterior Segment Imaging

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Waardenburg syndrome typically manifests with congenital iris pigmentary abnormalities, but careful inspection can reveal additional posterior uveal pigmentary abnormalities.


To demonstrate iris and choroidal hypopigmentation in patients with Waardenburg syndrome.


Retrospective review of 7 patients referred for evaluation of presumed ocular melanocytosis.


To describe the clinical and imaging features of the anterior and posterior uvea.


In all patients, the diagnosis of Waardenburg syndrome was established. The nonocular features included white forelock in 4 of 7 (57%), tubular nose in 5 of 6 (83%), and small nasal alae in 5 of 6 (83%) patients. In 2 patients, a hearing deficit was documented on audiology testing. Family history of Waardenburg syndrome was elicited in 5 of 7 (71%) patients. Ocular features (7 patients) included telecanthus in 5 (71%), synophrys in 2 (29%), iris hypopigmentation in 5 (71%), and choroidal hypopigmentation in 5 (71%) patients. No patient had muscle contractures or Hirschsprung disease. Visual acuity was 20/20 to 20/50 in all patients. Iris hypopigmentation in 8 eyes was sector in 6 (75%) and diffuse (complete) in 2 (25%). Choroidal hypopigmentation in 9 eyes (100%) showed a sector pattern in 6 (67%) and a diffuse pattern in 3 (33%). Anterior segment optical coherence tomography revealed the hypopigmented iris to be thinner and with shallower crypts than the normal iris. Posterior segment optical coherence tomography showed a normal retina in all patients, but the subfoveal choroid in the hypopigmented region was slightly thinner (mean, 197 μm) compared with the opposite normal choroid (243 μm). Fundus autofluorescence demonstrated mild hyperautofluorescence (scleral unmasking) in hypopigmented choroid and no lipofuscin abnormality.


Waardenburg syndrome manifests hypopigmentation of the iris and choroid with imaging features showing a slight reduction in the thickness of the affected tissue.

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