, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 163-172


  • James W. WhelessAffiliated withLe Bonheur Children’s Medical Center, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • , R. Eugene RamsayAffiliated withUniversity of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center
  • , Stephen D. CollinsAffiliated withOvation Pharmaceuticals Email author 


Refractory epilepsies such as infantile spasms (IS) and complex partial seizures (CPS) can have a severe negative impact on the neurological integrity and quality of life of affected patients, in addition to drastically increasing their risk of premature mortality. Early identification of potentially effective pharmacotherapy agents is important. Vigabatrin has been shown to be a generally well tolerated and effective antiepileptic drug (AED) in a wide variety of seizure types affecting both children and adults, particularly those with IS and CPS. A bilateral, concentric constriction of the peripheral visual field characterizes the visual field defect (VFD) associated with vigabatrin, well characterized by numerous studies. This peripheral VFD presents in 30–50% of patients with exposure of several years; however, most of these patients are asymptomatic. In well-controlled studies, the earliest onset in patients with CPS is 11 months and at 5 months in infants, with average onsets being more than 5 years and 1 year, respectively. Patients with a peripheral VFD retain an average 65° of lateral vision (normal, 90°). The fact that many patients never develop the vigabatrin-related peripheral VFD, despite long-term exposure at high doses, may support the hypothesis that the injury is an idiosyncratic adverse drug reaction (as opposed to a strict dose- or duration-dependent toxicity). Effective testing methods are available to aid in the early detection and management of the peripheral VFD. This article discusses issues of importance to clinical decision-making in the use of vigabatrin to assist the physician and patient in assessing the benefits of vigabatrin therapy and understanding the potential risks of the VFD and uncontrolled seizures.

Key Words

vigabatrin epilepsy refractory epilepsy complex partial seizures infantile spasms West syndrome visual fields