Gaze-Evoked Deformations in Optic Nerve Head Drusen: Repetitive Shearing as a Potential Factor in the Visual and Vascular Complications. Sibony et al. Ophthalmology

Sibony PA, Wei J, Sigal IA. Gaze-Evoked Deformations in Optic Nerve Head Drusen: Repetitive Shearing as a Potential Factor in the Visual and Vascular Complications. Ophthalmology. 2018 Jun;125(6):929-937. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.12.006. Epub 2018 Apr 2


To determine if ocular ductions deform intrapapillary and peripapillary tissues in optic nerve head drusen (ONHD) and to compare these deformations with healthy eyes and eyes with other optic neuropathies.


Observational case series.


Twenty patients with ONHD.


Axial rasters of the optic nerve from a spectral-domain OCT device (Cirrus 5000; Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc, Dublin, CA) were used to analyze the shape of the peripapillary basement membrane (ppBM) layer in 20 confirmed cases of ONHD. We compared registered images obtained from 2 eye positions: 10° to 15° in adduction and 30° to 40° in abduction. Geometric morphometrics was used to analyze the shape of the ppBM layer defined by placing 10 equidistant landmarks extending 2500 μm on both sides of the basement membrane opening. We also adapted an image strain tracking technique to measure regional intrapapillary strains in 6 patients. Using manually placed nodes on the reference image (in adduction), an iterative, block-matching algorithm is used to determine local displacements between the reference and its paired image in abduction. Displacement vectors were used to calculate the mean shear and effective strain (percent change).


Peripapillary shape deformations, intrapapillary shear strains, and effective strains.


We found a statistically significant difference in the shape of the ppBM layer between abduction and adduction (P < 0.01). The deformation was characterized by a relative posterior displacement temporally in adduction that reversed in abduction. Strain tracking in all 6 patients showed substantial gaze-induced shearing and effective strains. Mean effective strains were 7.5% outside the drusen. Shear and effective strains were significantly larger outside versus within the drusen (P < 0.003 and P < 0.01, respectively).


This study demonstrates that horizontal ocular ductions induce significant shearing deformations of the peripapillary retina and prelaminar intrapapillary tissues. We also found that the deformations in healthy persons are similar in magnitude to ONHD. Based on these findings, we speculate that patients with intrapapillary calcifications exposed to the long-term effects of repetitive shearing (induced by ocular ductions) may contribute to the progressive axonal loss and vascular complications associated with ONHD.

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