AIMS: Juvenile CLN3 disease, one of the most common forms of a group of lysosomal storage diseases called neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs), is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with initial visual deterioration. The objective of this study was to analyse the retinal phenotype of patients with CLN3 disease with the help of recent ophthalmic imaging modalities to distinguish CLN3 disease from other inherited retinal dystrophies.
METHODS: Patients underwent ophthalmic evaluations, including anterior and posterior segment examinations, optical coherence tomography, fundus autofluorescence, near infrared imaging and fundus photography. Patients were also assessed according to the Hamburg juvenile NCL (JNCL) score. Each ophthalmic finding was assessed by three independent examiners and assigned to a clinical severity score.
RESULTS: 22 eyes of 11 patients were included. The mean age at examination was 14.4 years (range 11.8-26.4 years), with an average age at initial diagnosis of 8 years (range 4.5-11 years). The mean Hamburg JNCL score was 7.3 (range 0-13). All patients showed a specific macular striation pattern on optical coherence tomography that was independent of age and progression of the disease. Other previously described retinal features of CLN3 disease were classified into four severity grades.
CONCLUSIONS: This study represents the first prospective observational case series documenting retinal abnormalities in CLN3 disease with the aid of the spectral domain optical coherence tomography. The major finding was a characteristic, striated macular pattern in all patients studied. Particularly in early disease cases, macular striae can potentially help to discriminate CLN3 disease from other inherited forms of retinitis pigmentosa.