We investigated the presence of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) in patients with nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) compared to control subjects without NAION to identify the association between NAION and cerebral SVD. We retrospectively reviewed the cases of 63 patients with NAION and 2749 control subjects without any neurologic and ocular diseases including NAION who underwent careful medical interviews, ophthalmic examinations, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of the brain. We assessed and compared the degree of cerebral SVD on the MRIs. The patients with NAION presented with cerebral SVD more frequently than controls (68% versus 37%, respectively, p<0.001), which was also observed after adjusting for age, sex, comorbid conditions including hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia, and smoking using the standardized mortality ratio (68% vs. 37%, p<0.001). A multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that the odds of cerebral SVD were 4.86 (95% CI, 2.10 to 11.24, p<0.001) times higher in patients with NAION than in the controls. We found that there was an association between cerebral SVD and NAION even after adjusting for age, sex, and medical histories. Clinicians should consider brain MRI scans in patients with NAION to prevent neurological impairment after cerebral SVD.
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