Pupillographic Investigation of the Relative Afferent Pupillary Defect Associated with a Midbrain Lesion

Aki Kawasaki, Neil R. Miller, Randy Kardon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To identify clinical and pupillographic features of patients with a relative afferent pupillary defect (RAPD) without visual acuity or visual field loss caused by a lesion in the dorsal midbrain. Design: Experimental study. Participants and Controls: Four patients with a dorsal midbrain lesion who had normal visual fields and a clinically detectable RAPD. Methods: The pupil response from full-field and hemifield light stimulation over a range of light intensities was measured by computerized binocular pupillography. Main Outcome Measures: The mean of the direct and consensual pupil response to full-field and hemifield light stimulation was plotted as a function of stimulus light intensity. Results: All 4 subjects showed decreased pupillographic responses at all intensities to full-field light stimulation in the eye with the clinical RAPD. The pupillographic responses to hemifield stimulation showed a homonymous pattern of deficit on the side ipsilateral to the RAPD, similar to that observed in a previously reported patient with an optic tract lesion. Conclusions: The basis of a midbrain RAPD is the nasal-temporal asymmetry of pupillomotor input that becomes manifest when a unilateral postchiasmal lesion interrupts homonymously paired fibers traveling in the contralateral optic tract or midbrain pathway to the pupillomotor center, respectively. The pupillographic characteristics of an RAPD resulting from a dorsal midbrain lesion thus resemble those of an RAPD resulting from a unilateral optic tract lesion, but without the homonymous visual field defect. Financial Disclosure(s): The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-179
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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