Pattern electroretinogram (PERG) and pattern visual evoked potential (PVEP) in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease

Doc Ophthalmol. 2010 Oct;121(2):111-21. doi: 10.1007/s10633-010-9238-x. Epub 2010 Jun 13.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the most common causes of dementia in the world. Patients with AD frequently complain of vision disturbances that do not manifest as changes in routine ophthalmological examination findings. The main causes of these disturbances are neuropathological changes in the visual cortex, although abnormalities in the retina and optic nerve cannot be excluded. Pattern electroretinogram (PERG) and pattern visual evoked potential (PVEP) tests are commonly used in ophthalmology to estimate bioelectrical function of the retina and optic nerve. The aim of this study was to determine whether retinal and optic nerve function, measured by PERG and PVEP tests, is changed in individuals in the early stages of AD with normal routine ophthalmological examination results. Standard PERG and PVEP tests were performed in 30 eyes of 30 patients with the early stages of AD. The results were compared to 30 eyes of 30 normal healthy controls. PERG and PVEP tests were recorded in accordance with the International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision (ISCEV) standards. Additionally, neural conduction was measured using retinocortical time (RCT)--the difference between P100-wave latency in PVEP and P50-wave implicit time in PERG. In PERG test, PVEP test, and RCT, statistically significant changes were detected. In PERG examination, increased implicit time of P50-wave (P < 0.03) and amplitudes reductions in P50- and N95-waves (P < 0.0001) were observed. In PVEP examination, increased latency of P100-wave (P < 0.0001) was found. A significant increase in RCT (P < 0.0001) was observed. The most prevalent features were amplitude reduction in N95-wave and increased latency of P100-wave which were seen in 56.7% (17/30) of the AD eyes. In patients with the early stages of AD and normal routine ophthalmological examination results, dysfunction of the retinal ganglion cells as well as of the optic nerve is present, as detected by PERG and PVEP tests. These dysfunctions, at least partially, explain the cause of visual disturbances observed in patients with the early stages of AD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Electroretinography*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Optic Nerve / physiopathology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Retina / physiopathology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology