Delayed oculomotor response associates with optic neuritis in youth with demyelinating disorders

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2023 Nov:79:104969. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2023.104969. Epub 2023 Aug 29.


Introduction: Impairment in visual and cognitive functions occur in youth with demyelinating disorders such as multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease. Quantitative behavioral assessment using eye-tracking and pupillometry can provide functional metrics for important prognostic and clinically relevant information at the bedside.

Methods: Children and adolescents diagnosed with demyelinating disorders and healthy, age-matched controls completed an interleaved pro- and anti-saccade task using video-based eye-tracking and underwent spectral-domain optical coherence tomography examination for evaluation of retinal nerve fiber layer and ganglion cell inner plexiform layer thickness. Low-contrast visual acuity and Symbol Digit Modalities Test were performed for visual and cognitive functional assessments. We assessed saccade and pupil parameters including saccade reaction time, direction error rate, pupil response latency, peak constriction time, and peak constriction and dilation velocities. Generalized Estimating Equations were used to examine the association of eye-tracking parameters with optic neuritis history, structural metrics, and visual and cognitive scores.

Results: The study included 36 demyelinating disorders patients, aged 8-18 yrs. (75% F; median = 15.22 yrs., SD = 2.8) and 34 age-matched controls (65% F; median = 15.26 yrs., SD = 2.3). Surprisingly, pro- and anti-saccade performance was comparable between patients and controls, whereas pupil control was altered in patients. Oculomotor latency measures were strongly associated with the number of optic neuritis episodes, including saccade reaction time, pupil response latency, and peak constriction time. Peak constriction time was associated with both retinal nerve fiber layer and ganglion cell inner plexiform layer thickness. Pupil response latency and peak constriction time were associated with visual acuity. Pupil velocity for both constriction and dilation was associated with Symbol Digit Modalities Test scores.

Conclusion: The strong associations between oculomotor measures with history of optic neuritis, structural, visual, and cognitive assessments in these cohorts demonstrates that quantitative eye-tracking can be useful for probing demyelinating injury of the brain and optic nerve. Future studies should evaluate their utility in discriminating between demyelinating disorders and tracking disease progression.

Keywords: Demyelinating disorders; Eye-tracking; Optic neuritis; Pupil dynamics.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Fibers
  • Neuromyelitis Optica* / diagnosis
  • Optic Nerve
  • Optic Neuritis* / complications
  • Optic Neuritis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Retina
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence