Auto-antibodies assist with the diagnosis of ocular paraneoplastic syndromes and autoimmune ocular conditions; however, the frequency of positive test results as a possible precursor to future disease is unknown. The frequency of positive antibodies in heavy smokers who may be at risk for autoimmune-related retinopathy and optic neuropathy was evaluated. Serum antibody activity was evaluated through the use of Western blot reactions from pig retina and optic nerve extract. Fifty-one patients were included: 35 patients were smokers (average: 40.9 pack-year history) and 26 patients had no past smoking history. None of the patients had any visual complaints or known eye disease. Of the patients studied, 76.5% (39 patients: 18 smokers, 21 non-smokers) had positive antiretinal antibodies, and 19.6% (10 patients: 3 smokers, 7 non-smokers) had positive antioptic nerve antibodies. Anti-retinal antibodies were seen in a majority of randomly selected patients with and without a past smoking history. Anti-optic nerve bodies were less common, but more prevalent in those who never smoked. The specificity of these antibodies remains greatly uncertain and clinical correlation is warranted.
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