THE SECOND BLIND SPOT: SMALL RETINAL VESSEL VASCULOPATHY AFTER VACCINATION AGAINST NEISSERIAMENINGITIDIS AND YELLOW FEVER

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Abstract

Purpose:

To describe a case of small retinal vessel vasculopathy postvaccination.

Methods:

We report the case of a 41-year-old white man who presented with a “second blind spot,” describing a nasal scotoma in the right eye that started 4 days after vaccinations against Neisseria meningitidis and the yellow fever virus, and after a 2-month period of high stress and decreased sleep. Clinical examination, Humphrey visual field testing, and multimodal imaging with fundus photographs, autofluorescence, fluorescein angiography, and spectral domain optical coherence tomography and angiography were performed.

Results:

Clinical examination revealed a well-circumscribed, triangular area of retinal graying of about 1-disk diameter in size, located at the border of the temporal macula. This corresponded to a deep scotoma similar in size to the physiologic blind spot on Humphrey visual field 24-2 testing. There was mild hypoautofluoresence of this lesion on autofluorescence, hypofluorescence on fluorescein angiography, and focal attenuation of a small artery just distal to the bifurcation of an artery supplying the involved area. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography through the lesion conveyed hyperreflectivity most prominent in the inner and outer plexiform layers, with extension of the hyperreflectivity into the ganglion cell and inner nuclear layers. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography angiography demonstrated arteriolar and capillary dropout, more pronounced in the superficial retinal layer compared to the deeper retinal layer. At 1-month follow-up, his scotoma improved with monitoring, with reduction from −32 dB to −7 dB on Humphrey visual field testing. There was clinical resolution of the area of graying and decreased hyperreflectivity on spectral domain optical coherence tomography, with atrophy of the inner retina. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography angiography showed progression of arteriolar and capillary dropout, more so in the superficial than in the deep capillary plexus.

Conclusion:

We describe a case of small artery occlusion in a previously healthy patient, 4 days after vaccination against N. meningitidis and yellow fever. Fluorescein angiography yielded greater diagnostic value than OCTA for evaluating the occlusion, whereas spectral domain optical coherence tomography angiography enabled better visualization of capillary dropout and layer-specific assessment. Further research is required to determine whether vaccination in general, or directed specifically at N. meningitidis or yellow fever, is associated with small vessel vasculopathy and the underlying pathogenesis.

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