- central retinal vein occlusion
- acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- young adult
- emergency medicine
Simultaneous bilateral central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) is a rare presentation that warrants consideration of an underlying hyperviscosity state. Increased serum viscosity can lead to the hematologic emergency of leukostasis with resultant vascular obstruction and hypoxic tissue damage. The following case demonstrates the first case of bilateral CRVO in a young adult secondary to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). A 23-year-old female presented to the emergency department (ED) with two days of worsening bilateral blurry vision and bitemporal headache. Her ocular exam was significant for bilateral intraretinal hemorrhages consistent with CRVO with chest radiograph demonstrating widened mediastinum with perihilar lymphadenopathy and serologic testing revealing ALL with blast crisis. The patient was subsequently admitted to the oncology service for induction chemotherapy. Patients with new headache and bilateral vision changes should prompt a thorough neurological and ophthalmologic exam to assess for underlying systemic pathologies. Concurrent bilateral CRVO is a rare but specific finding for systemic hyperviscosity syndrome, blood dyscrasia, polycythemia, or other serious illness. Early recognition and treatment of the underlying condition can prevent further vision loss and overall morbidity and mortality.