Segmental denervation and reinnervation of the iris sphincter as shown by infrared videographic transillumination

Ophthalmology. 1998 Feb;105(2):313-21. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(98)93328-0.


Objective: This study aimed to analyze the denervation and reinnervation history of individual segments of the iris sphincter in patients with Adie's syndrome.

Design: The irises of these patients were retroilluminated by shining an infrared-rich light through the lower eyelid and sclera and viewing the transilluminated iris from the front with an infrared-sensitive video camera. The irises of the same group of patients also were videotaped through a slit-lamp camera using routine frontal illumination. Both of these techniques also were used to examine a series of normal subjects.

Participants: A total of 61 patients with Adie's syndrome or Adie's-like denervation of the iris sphincter (from surgery, trauma, or radiation) and 10 normal subjects were studied.

Main outcome measures: Slit-lamp examination results of the segmental movement of the iris were compared to the infrared transillumination pattern of the iris sphincter before and during the light reflex, before and during the near-vision reaction, before and during eye movement, and before and after the application of dilute pilocarpine and 1% pilocarpine.

Results: Whenever an iris sphincter segment contracted, it also became denser by using these techniques. Reinnervated iris segments failed to contract to light but did contract and became denser with a near effort or with eye movement. Segments supersensitive to pilocarpine became denser than adjacent segments without supersensitivity, but atrophic-appearing segments looked translucent and thin, failing to become denser, even with 1% pilocarpine.

Conclusions: The innervational history and current status of each clock-hour segment of the iris sphincter can be determined using this technique of videographic infrared transillumination, and the progression and pattern of iris denervation and reinnervation can be determined in patients with Adie's pupil. A miotic Adie's pupil that is "tonic," even in darkness, was found to be associated with a dense pattern of infrared transillumination in sphincter segments, which the authors interpret as being associated with a rich reinnervation from accommodative fibers. Segments that become densely reinnervated appear to lose their cholinergic supersensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adie Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Denervation
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays
  • Iris / drug effects
  • Iris / innervation*
  • Light
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Parasympathomimetics / pharmacology
  • Pilocarpine / pharmacology
  • Reflex, Pupillary
  • Video Recording


  • Parasympathomimetics
  • Pilocarpine