Background: Aniridia patients have poor visual acuity and iris malformation. The fovea in these patients is underdeveloped, but the relationship between structure and electrophysiologic function remains incompletely understood. This study correlates electrophysiology, visual acuity and optical coherence tomography (OCT) in patients with aniridia secondary to mutations in the PAX6 gene and compares with age-similar controls.
Methods: Patients were recruited from clinical practice. The mfERG protocol was a 4-min 103-hexagon protocol covering approximately 40° in diameter of central retina. Diagnosys full-field ERG (ffERG) and VERIS multifocal ERG (mfERG) were obtained using standard International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision protocols. OCT central thickness was recorded, and an OCT foveal score was calculated. Nonparametric permutation testing was utilized to determine the statistical significance.
Results: A total of 6 aniridia patients and 25 control patients were recruited. On mfERG, aniridia patients had significantly lower amplitudes in rings 1-3 (p = 0.0006, 0.0013, 0.0132), shorter latencies in ring 1 (p = 0.0312) and longer latencies in rings 5 and 6 (p = 0.0026, p = 0.0042) than controls. There was a significantly positive relationship in aniridia patients between logMAR visual acuity and mfERG amplitude in ring 4 (p = 0.0392) and ring 5 (p = 0.0489). On ffERG, there was no difference in amplitudes, though photopic 3.0 a- and b-wave latency, 30 Hz flicker latency and scotopic 0.01 b-wave latency were significantly longer in aniridia patients versus control (p = 0.0018, 0.0.0005, 1.00 x [Formula: see text], 0.0198). Thicker central macula on OCT correlated with lower mfERG amplitudes in rings 4-6 (p = 0.0369, 0.0292, 0.0255). There was no correlation between visual acuity and central macular thickness or foveal hypoplasia score as determined by OCT.
Conclusions: Higher amplitude on mfERG correlated with poorer visual acuity in rings 4 and 5 in patients with PAX6 mutations. The slope of the change in amplitude from central to peripheral rings on the mfERG is significantly different in aniridia patients compared to controls, with a slower drop-off of amplitude from center to periphery. Additionally, mfERG in aniridia showed lower amplitudes than controls in rings 1-3. These changes along with the lack of correlation between visual acuity and central macular thickness/OCT score suggest that changes in electrical topography may be important to visual deficits in patients with PAX6 gene mutations.