Photoreceptor Structure in GNAT2-Associated Achromatopsia

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2020 Mar 9;61(3):40. doi: 10.1167/iovs.61.3.40.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to report GNAT2-associated achromatopsia (GNAT2-ACHM) natural history, characterize photoreceptor mosaic, and determine a therapeutic window for potential intervention.

Methods: Patients with GNAT2-ACHM were recruited from a single tertiary referral eye center (Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK). We performed longitudinal clinical evaluation and ophthalmic examination, and multimodal retinal imaging, including adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy, quantitative analysis of the cone mosaic, and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness, including cone densities evaluation in selected regions of interest and comparison with reported healthy controls.

Results: All nine subjects (3 women) presented with nystagmus, decreased visual acuity (VA), light sensitivity, and highly variable color vision loss. One patient had normal color vision and better VA. Mean VA was 1.01 (±0.10) logarithms of the minimal angle of resolution (LogMAR) at baseline, and 1.04 (±0.10) LogMAR after a mean follow-up (range) of 7.6 years (1.7-12.8 years). Optical coherence tomography showed preservation of the foveal ellipsoid zone (EZ; n = 8; 88.9%), and EZ disruption (n = 1; 11.1%). Mean ONL thickness (range, ± SD) was 84.72 µm (28.57-113.33, ± 25.46 µm) and 86.47 µm (28.57-113.33, ± 24.65 µm) for right and left eyes, respectively. Mean cone densities (±SD) at 190 µm, 350 µm, and 500 µm from the foveal center, were 48.4 (±24.6), 37.8 (±14.7), and 30.7 (±9.9), ×103 cones/mm2, respectively. Mean cone densities were lower than these of unaffected individuals, but with an overlap.

Conclusions: The cone mosaic in GNAT2-ACHM is relatively well preserved, potentially allowing for a wide therapeutic window for cone-directed interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Color Perception Tests
  • Color Vision Defects / genetics*
  • Color Vision Defects / pathology*
  • Electroretinography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • GTP-Binding Protein gamma Subunits / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / diagnosis
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Optical Imaging
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / pathology*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • GNGT2 protein, human
  • GTP-Binding Protein gamma Subunits