University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

EyeRounds Online Atlas of Ophthalmology

Retinal astrocytoma

Contributor: Justin Risma, MD

Updated and Expanded by: Cameron Wagner, BS  and Lorraine M. Provencher, MD

Retinal astrocytoma in a 35-year-old female with a history of tuberous sclerosis


Retinal Astrocytoma is a rare benign glioma that typically occurs in childhood and adolescence. Most patients have no visual disturbance with initial presentation. Symptoms usually occur with tumor involvement of the macula. Retinal astrocytomas typically appear white in color, opaque, or translucent, with varying degrees of thickness. Tumors are typically comprised of large, fibrous astrocytes containing small, oval nuclei. Larger tumors may develop areas of calcification. Retinal astrocytomas may be unilateral or bilateral. Patients can sometimes present with an astrocytoma as a manifestation of tuberous sclerosis, which is more commonly seen with bilateral astrocytomas. Retinal astrocytomas rarely become malignant, and treatment is usually observation. Tumors that continue to grow or cause symptoms may require surgical intervention. 


  1. Tasman W and Jaeger EA. Atlas of Clinical Ophthalmology. Chapter 7: Retinal Tumors. Ed. 2001: 274-275.

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Retinal astrocytoma in a 35-year-old female with a history of tuberous sclerosis

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last updated: 03/24/2017; originally posted 07-12-2012
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