Peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer swelling predicts peripapillary atrophy in a primate model of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy

Mary A. Johnson, Neil R Miller, Theresa Nolan, Steven L. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PURPOSE. To determine the relationship between peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (PRNFL) swelling and eventual PRNFL atrophy, and between PRNFL swelling/atrophy and neural function, in a nonhuman primate model of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (pNAION). METHODS. pNAION was induced in five normal, adult male rhesus monkeys by laser activation of intravenously injected rose bengal at the optic nerve head. Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography measurements of the PRNFL were performed at baseline; 1 day; 1, 2, and 4 weeks; and several later times over a period of an additional 2 to 3 months. Simultaneous pattern-reversal electroretinograms (PERGs) and visual evoked potentials (VEPs) were recorded and color fundus photographs taken at the same time points. RESULTS. In all cases, initial PRNFL swelling was associated with atrophy, and the greater the initial swelling, the greater the degree of eventual atrophy (r = 0.65, P = 0.0002). The change in PRNFL thickness closely correlated with VEP amplitude loss (r = 0.90), although this relationship was only a strong trend (P = 0.083). Furthermore, VEP amplitude loss closely correlated with PERG N95 amplitude loss (r = 0.80, P = 0.00002) CONCLUSIONS. In our model of human NAION, the degree of initial PRNFL swelling correlated with the severity of atrophy. Areas that did not swell developed little to no atrophy. The amount of PRNFL loss was reflected in VEP and PERG N95 amplitude reductions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-532
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016



  • Animal model
  • Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
  • Nerve fiber layer thickening
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Visual evoked potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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