Pupillometric findings in patients with Parkinson's disease and cognitive disorder

Int J Psychophysiol. 2009 May;72(2):97-101. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2008.10.010. Epub 2008 Nov 19.


The aim of this study is to investigate the changes of the pupil's light reflex (PLR) and mobility in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with and without cognitive disorder. Twenty two (22) patients (ten males, twelve females, mean age: 72.7+/-7.3 years) with identified PD entered the study. The patients were examined with the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Wechsler II Memory Scale (WMS II) and the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D17). Eleven (11) patients (five males, six females, mean age: 72.09+/-7.06 years) were free of any cognitive deficits and eleven (11) patients (five males, six females, mean age: 73.36+/-7.55 years) had cognitive disorder according to the aforementioned scales. None of the patients satisfied the DSM-IV-TR criteria for depression or anxiety disorder. The patients underwent a pupillometric study in both eyes with single flash stimuli of 24.6 candelas/m(2) intensity and 20 ms duration. The pupillometric parameters that were studied were: Latency for the onset of Constriction (T1), Baseline Pupil Radius (R1), Minimum Pupil Radius after the pupil reaction to light (R2), Amplitude (AMP, R1-R2), Time for maximum Miosis (T2), Maximum Constriction Velocity (VCmax) and Maximum Constriction Acceleration (ACmax). The pupillometric findings of each group were compared to those of an age and sex matched group of eleven healthy subjects. Furthermore, a comparison between the findings of the two groups was conducted. ACmax and VCmax were significantly lower in patients without (PD) and with coexisting cognitive impairment (PDC) compared to normal subjects (NC) (p<0.001). Patients with cognitive impairment (PDC) had significantly lower levels of ACmax, VCmax and AMP than patients without cognitive deficits (PD). Cognitive impairment in PD, which mainly reflects a central cholinergic deficit, may be a crucial pathogenetic factor for the decrease in the aforementioned pupillometric parameters. VCmax and ACmax can be considered as the most sensitive indicators of this central cholinergic deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Pupil / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reflex, Pupillary / physiology*