Epitheliopathy, Acute Posterior Multifocal Placoid Pigment

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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  • Acute multifocal placoid pigment epitheliopathy
  • Acute placoid pigment epitheliopathy
  • Multifocal placoid pigment epitheliopathy

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Acute posterior multifocal placoid pigment epitheliopathy (APMPPE) is a rare eye disorder of unknown (idiopathic) cause. The disorder is characterized by the impairment of central vision in one eye (unilateral) but, within a few days, the second eye may also become affected (bilateral). In most cases, the disorder resolves within a few weeks without loss of clearness of vision (acuity). However, in some cases, visual acuity does not improve. This disorder occurs predominantly in young adults, with a mean age of onset of 27 years. It is reported that, in approximately one-third of the cases, an influenza-like illness preceded the development of the disorder.


Prior to the onset of disease, about 33% of patients present with flu-like or viral symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph glands, nausea, vomiting, joint pain and/or tenderness. Moderate to severe headaches may also be present and, much more rarely, there may be neurological signs such as temporary loss of speech (aphasia) and/or weakness of the arms and legs.

In the early stages of APMPPE, patients notice areas of visual blotchiness within the field of clear vision (blotchy scotomata), flashes of light (photopsia) caused by irritation of the retina, distortion of the shapes of objects (metamorphopsia), increased sensitivity to light (photophobia) and conjunctivitis.

During the late stages of the disorder, patients usually notice mild decreases in vision. Rarely, the impaired vision may be severe.

Examination of the eye usually shows multiple flat, yellow-white lesions of the posterior pole of the nerve-rich membrane lining the eyes (retina). Frequently the veins of the retina are inflamed (vasculitis), but the inflammation often subsides without treatment. In some cases, pigment changes in the retina may be permanent and the resulting visual impairment may also be permanent. However, in most cases the disorder is characterized by a temporary impairment of vision.


The exact cause of acute posterior multifocal placoid pigment epitheliopathy is not known. Researchers suspect that it may be caused by a virus. It can subside without treatment or it may recur at any time. The viruses may stay dormant in humans for extended periods of time, then for reasons yet unknown may unexplainably become reactivated.

Affected Populations

Acute posterior multifocal placoid pigment epitheliopathy is a rare visual disorder that affects males and females in equal numbers.

Standard Therapies

Treatment of acute posterior multifocal placoid pigment epitheliopathy is symptomatic and supportive. Very often vision returns without specific treatment.

Investigational Therapies

Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.

For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:

Tollfree: (800) 411-1222

TTY: (866) 411-1010

Email: prpl@cc.nih.gov

For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:




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Ganley JP, Kooragayala LM. Acute multifocal placoid pigment epithelio-pathy. EMedicine. Last Updated: August 22, 2001. 14pp.


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For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.® (NORD). Cigna members can access the complete report by logging into myCigna.com. For non-Cigna members, a copy of the complete report can be obtained for a small fee by visiting the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational treatments (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, see http://www.rarediseases.org/search/rdblist.html.