Early light deprivation effects on human cone-driven retinal function

Acta Ophthalmol. 2017 Mar;95(2):133-139. doi: 10.1111/aos.13191. Epub 2016 Aug 18.


Purpose: To assess whether the early light deprivation induced by congenital cataract may influence the cone-driven retinal function in humans.

Methods: Forty-one patients affected by congenital cataract (CC) who had undergone uncomplicated cataract extraction surgery and intraocular lens implant, and 14 healthy subjects (HS) were enrolled. All patients underwent complete ophthalmological and orthoptic evaluations and best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) measurement; light-adapted full-field electroretinograms (ERG) and photopic negative responses (PhNR) were recorded to obtain a reliable measurement of the outer/inner retinal function and of the retinal ganglion cells' function respectively.

Results: Mean values of light-adapted ERG a- and b-wave and PhNR amplitude of CC eyes were significantly reduced and photopic ERG b-wave implicit time mean values were significantly delayed when compared to HS ones. When studying photopic ERG mean amplitudes at 5 ms, significant differences were found when comparing CC and control eyes. In CC eyes, statistically significant correlations were found between a- and b- wave amplitudes and PhNR amplitudes. No significant correlations were found between ERG parameters and BCVA, as well as between the age of CC patients at surgery and the time elapsed from lens extraction. No significant differences were found when functional parameters of bilateral and unilateral congenital cataract (uCC) eyes were compared, however uCC eyes showed significant differences when compared with contralateral healthy eyes.

Conclusion: We found a significant impairment of cone-driven retinal responses in patients with a history of congenital cataract. These changes might result from the long-lasting effects of early light deprivation on the cone retinal pathways. Our findings support the relevance of retinal involvement in deficits induced by early light deprivation.

Keywords: congenital cataract; electroretinogram; light deprivation; photopic negative response; retinal development; retinal function.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cataract / congenital
  • Cataract / physiopathology
  • Cataract / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Color Vision / physiology*
  • Electroretinography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Sensory Deprivation*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Visual Fields