Eye movements in patients with Whiplash Associated Disorders: a systematic review

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016 Oct 21;17(1):441. doi: 10.1186/s12891-016-1284-4.

Abstract

Background: Many people with Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) report problems with vision, some of which may be due to impaired eye movements. Better understanding of such impaired eye movements could improve diagnostics and treatment strategies. This systematic review surveys the current evidence on changes in eye movements of patients with WAD and explains how the oculomotor system is tested.

Methods: Nine electronic data bases were searched for relevant articles from inception until September 2015. All studies which investigated eye movements in patients with WAD and included a healthy control group were screened for inclusion. Qualifying studies were retrieved and independently assessed for methodological quality using the Methodology Checklists provided by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.

Results: Fourteen studies out of 833 unique hits were included. Ten studies reported impaired eye movements in patients with WAD and in four studies no differences compared to healthy controls were found. Different methods of eye movement examination were used in the ten studies: in five studies, the smooth pursuit neck torsion test was positive, in two more the velocity and stability of head movements during eye-coordination tasks were decreased, and in another three studies the cervico-ocular reflex was elevated.

Conclusions: Overall the reviewed studies show deficits in eye movement in patients with WAD, but studies and results are varied. When comparing the results of the 14 relevant publications, one should realise that there are significant differences in test set-up and patient population. In the majority of studies patients show altered compensatory eye movements and smooth pursuit movements which may impair the coordination of head and eyes.

Keywords: Oculomotor problems; Problems with vision; Systematic review; Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movement Measurements*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Head Movements
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nystagmus, Optokinetic
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular
  • Vision Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*