What are the ophthalmologic findings in Wilson disease?

Updated: Feb 14, 2019
  • Author: Richard K Gilroy, MBBS, FRACP; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Kayser-Fleischer rings are formed by the deposition of copper in the Descemet membrane in the limbus of the cornea. The color may range from greenish gold to brown; when well developed, rings may be readily visible to the naked eye or with an ophthalmoscope set at +40. When not visible to the unaided eye, the rings may be identified using slit-lamp examination or gonioscopy.

Kayser-Fleischer rings are observed in up to 90% of individuals with symptomatic Wilson disease and are almost invariably present in those with neurologic manifestations.

Although Kayser-Fleischer rings are a useful diagnostic sign, they are no longer considered pathognomonic of Wilson disease unless accompanied by neurologic manifestations. They may also be observed in patients with chronic cholestatic disorders, such as partial biliary atresia, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and cryptogenic cirrhosis.

Kayser-Fleischer rings consist of electron-dense granules rich in copper and sulfur. The rings form bilaterally, initially appearing at the superior pole of the cornea, then the inferior pole, and, ultimately, circumferentially.

Sunflower cataract appears to be a rare and reversible ophthalmologic finding in Wilson disease. [16] This finding may occur only at the time of diagnosis of Wilson disease and is thus not a pathognomonic sign.

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