Sympathetic ophthalmia

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00417-008-0939-8

Cite this article as:
Castiblanco, C.P. & Adelman, R.A. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol (2009) 247: 289. doi:10.1007/s00417-008-0939-8



Sympathetic ophthalmia (SO) is a rare, bilateral, non-necrotizing, granulomatous uveitis that occurs after ocular trauma or surgical procedures to one eye threatening sight in the fellow eye. The pathophysiology is not clearly understood, but it appears that the disrupted integrity of the inciting eye leads to an autoimmune hypersensitivity reaction against the exposed ocular antigens in the injured eye as well as in the sympathizing eye. More recently, vitreoretinal surgery has been noted to be a risk factor for the development of SO.


Medline search for case reports of sympathetic ophthalmia with links to full text in English yielded articles for review of patient demographics, clinical presentation and examination, therapies and final visual acuity.


Eighty-six patients with SO were included in this review. Sixty-two patients were male and 24 were female with an average age of 46 years. Injuries accounted for 47% of patients while ocular surgery was reported in 44% of patients with pars plana vitrectomy occurring in 21%. Most patients reported reduced vision and presented with uveitis. Ninety-five percent of them received systemic corticosteroid therapy and 75% of patients also received immunomodulators. About 70% of patients had improved visual acuity in their sympathizing eye at their last reported evaluation.


Sympathetic ophthalmia warrants prompt evaluation and treatment to maintain a favorable visual outcome. Ocular surgeries including vitreoretinal surgery and cyclodestructive procedures have been noted to be risk factors for the development of sympathetic ophthalmia. With current medical management including corticosteroids and immunomodulators visual prognosis is relatively good.


Sympathetic ophthalmia Granulomatous uveitis Ocular trauma Dalen-Fuch’s nodules Immunosuppression Evisceration Enucleation 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Patricia Castiblanco
    • 1
  • Ron A. Adelman
    • 1
  1. 1.Retina ServiceYale University Eye CenterNew HavenUSA

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