Leber hereditary optic neuropathy: Current perspectives

Cherise Meyerson, Greg Van Stavern, Collin McClelland

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153 Scopus citations


Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is one of the most common inherited optic neuropathies causing bilateral central vision loss. The disorder results from point mutations in mitochondrial DNA and subsequent mitochondrial dysfunction. The primary cell type that is lost in LHON is the retinal ganglion cell, which is highly susceptible to disrupted ATP production and oxidative stress. Inheritance of LHON follows that of mitochondrial genetics, and it has a highly variable clinical phenotype, as other genetic and environmental factors also play a role. Although LHON usually presents with isolated vision loss, some patients suffer other neurological sequelae. For ill-defined reasons, male LHON mutation carriers are more affected than females. Most LHON patients remain legally blind, but a small proportion can experience spontaneous partial recovery, often within the first year of symptom onset. Unfortunately, at this time there are no established curative interventions and treatment is largely supportive. Patients should be offered low vision services and counseled on mitigating risk factors for additional vision loss, such as smoking and consuming alcohol. Encouraging treatments currently undergoing investigation includes ubiquinone analogs, such as idebenone, as well as gene therapy and stem cells to restore ATP synthesis and provide neuroprotection to surviving retinal ganglion cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1176
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Ophthalmology
StatePublished - Jun 26 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Meyerson et al.


  • Leber hereditary optic neuropathy
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Neuro-ophthalmology


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