More MS news articles for Mar 2002

Optic Neuritis in black people with multiple sclerosis

J Fr Ophtalmol 2001 Oct;24(8):829-35
Merle H, Cabre P, Poman G, Gerard M, Smadja D.
Service d'Ophtalmologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Fort-de-France, Hopital Pierre Zobda Quitman, B.P. 632, 97261 Fort de France.


The optical disease observed concurrent with multiple sclerosis is poorly known in blacks because of the rare occurrence of this pathology in the black population. The few studies currently available suggest more severe problems in black subjects than in Caucasians. Martinique has subjects who are genetically close or even identical but who acquired multiple sclerosis in two very different endemic areas: some in Martinique and others in France.


We performed an ophthalmological transversal descriptive study in a population of 57 black multiple sclerosis patients living in Martinique, selected according to the Poser criteria. Patients were divided into two groups: an M group (26 cases) made up of patients who had never left Martinique or the West Indies and an FM group (31 patients) made up of patients who had lived at least one year in France between the ages of 5 and 15.


At least one episode of retrobulbar optic neuritis was observed in 16 cases (61.5%) in the M group and in 11 cases (31.5%) in the FM group. The number of eyes with either one episode or more of retrobulbar optic neuritis or papillitis was higher in the M group, 26 cases (50%) than in the FM group, 14 cases (22.6%). Multiple sclerosis began by a disease of the optic nerve in 12 cases (46%) in the M group and in 7 cases (22.6%) in the FM group. The mean visual acuity is 20/30 in the M group and 20/20 in the FM group. The mean value of the p 100 wave was 131 ms in the M group and 113 ms in the FM group.


Multiple sclerosis observed in the black population living in Martinique (M group) is characterized by frequent and severe visual problems. The visual phenotype of the FM group is quite similar to the visual phenotype of Caucasians. More than ethnic and genetic factors, the tropical area of acquisition should have an influence on the visual phenotype. For unknown reasons, the optical problems appear severe when multiple sclerosis is acquired in a low endemic area.