To describe the various neuro-ophthalmic presentations, key exam features, and clinical findings associated with 5 common primary and secondary intracranial malignancies.
Retrospective PubMed search and review of published case reports, case series, observational studies, book chapters, and review articles examining the neuro-ophthalmic features of intracranial malignancies including primary glial neoplasms (e.g., glioblastoma multiforme), primary and secondary lymphoma, intracranial metastases, carcinomatous/lymphomatous meningitis, and intracranial germ cell tumors. The search strategy used to perform the retrospective review included the aforementioned tumor type (e.g., glioblastoma multiforme) and the following terms and Boolean operators: AND (“visual loss” OR “papilledema” OR “diplopia” OR “ophthalmoplegia” or “neuro-ophthalmology” OR “proptosis”).
The rate of growth and the location of an intracranial tumor are essential factors in determining the neuro-ophthalmic presentation of certain intracranial malignancies. Primary malignant brain glial neoplasms commonly present with visual afferent complaints (e.g., unilateral or bilateral visual acuity or visual field defects, bitemporal or homonymous hemianopsia), pupil abnormalities (relative afferent pupillary defect), and optic atrophy or papilledema. Primary intraocular lymphoma (with or without central nervous system lymphoma) typically presents as a painless bilateral vitritis. Secondary intracranial malignancies have variable afferent and efferent visual pathway presentations. Carcinomatous/lymphomatous meningitis is associated with diplopia (e.g., multiple ocular motor cranial neuropathies with or without vision loss from papilledema or compressive/infiltrative optic neuropathy). Intracranial germ cell tumors can present with a chiasmal syndrome or dorsal midbrain syndrome.
Intracranial malignancies can present with neuro-ophthalmic symptoms or signs depending on topographical localization. Specific neuro-ophthalmic presentations are associated with different malignant intracranial tumors. Clinicians should be aware of the common malignant intracranial tumors and their associated clinical presentations in neuro-ophthalmology.