Developmental visual deprivation: long term effects on human cone driven retinal function

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2017 Dec;255(12):2481-2486. doi: 10.1007/s00417-017-3780-0. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Purpose: To assess whether infantile visual deprivation induced by developmental cataract may influence the cone-driven retinal function in humans.

Methods: A total of 14 patients with history of bilateral developmental cataract (DC), 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 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.

Result: Mean values of light-adapted ERG a- and b-wave implicit times were slightly delayed when compared to HS values. Light-adapted ERG a-wave amplitude mean values showed borderline values (p = 0.001), whereas a-wave amplitude analysis at 5 ms, b-wave and PhNR amplitude mean values showed no significant differences when compared to control values. No significant correlations were found when age at surgery, time elapsed from surgery, duration of the visual deprivation, age at examination, age at first detection of the opacity, BCVA and electrophysiological parameters were plotted together. Coherently with morphological studies, the extremely light bioelectrical impairment of the cone pathway in our cohort of patients describes minimal functional abnormalities of a well-structured retina that is not completely mature.

Conclusions: Our present results, combined to those of our previous work on congenital cataracts, allow us to enhance the comprehension of functional developmental mechanisms of children's retinas and highlight the relevance of the timely treatment of lens opacities during infancy.

Keywords: Developmental cataract; Electroretinogram.; PhNR.; Retinal function.; Retinal ganglion cells function.; Visual deprivation..

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cataract / congenital
  • Cataract / physiopathology*
  • Cataract Extraction
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Color Vision
  • Electroretinography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Acuity*
  • Young Adult