Retinocalcarine function in Alzheimer's disease. A clinical and electrophysiological study

Arch Neurol. 1992 Jan;49(1):93-101. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1992.00530250097023.


Impaired visual function in Alzheimer's disease (AD) could result from either precortical or cortical lesions, or both. In a parallel psychophysical study of visual function in AD, we found that contrast sensitivity function, color vision, stereoacuity, and backward masking were impaired relative to the performance of age-matched control subjects, whereas performance on a critical flicker fusion test was normal. The intent of the present study was to determine whether abnormalities of the retinocalcarine pathway contribute to visual dysfunction. We performed neuro-ophthalmological examinations on 38 patients with AD; from this group, 25 received additional psychophysical testing and 13 underwent electrophysiological testing. Clinical neuro-ophthalmological examinations, full-field electroretinograms, focal electroretinograms, and pattern visual evoked potentials were normal in all patients tested. There was no evidence of retinocalcarine abnormality specific to AD. We conclude that the visual impairment experienced by some patients with AD primarily results from involvement of the visual association cortices rather than from precortical damage, at least before the end stage of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Color Perception
  • Electrophysiology
  • Electroretinography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Retina / physiopathology*
  • Vision Disorders / complications
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiopathology*