Retrograde degeneration of retinal ganglion cells in homonymous hemianopsia

Angela M. Herro, Byron L. Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study was to demonstrate the relationship between topographic reduction in macular ganglion cell complex (GCC) thickness as detected with spectral-domain optical coherence tomography and visual field defects caused by ischemic occipital cortical injury. Methods: This study was a retrospective review of all patients who presented to our eye institution between January 2012 and July 2014 with visual field defects secondary to ischemic cortical injury. The visual field defect pattern and mean deviation were analyzed. Retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and macular GCC were both assessed with spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. Patients with any ocular pathology that could affect these measurements were excluded. The topographic relationship of visual field defect to reduction in GCC was specifically analyzed. Results: Nine patients met the inclusion criteria. Their average age was 65 (57–73) years; eight were men and six had right hemianopsias. The laterality of the visual field defect was used to assign an affected and unaffected side of analysis for RNFL and GCC layer thickness. A right hemianopsia meant that the nasal fibers of the right eye and temporal fibers of the left eye were assigned as the “affected side”, and the temporal fibers of the right eye and nasal fibers of the left eye were assigned as “unaffected”. There was no statistically significant difference between affected and unaffected RNFL. However, there was a significant difference in GCC layer reduction between the affected and unaffected sides (P=0.029). Conclusion: There is evidence of retrograde trans-synaptic retinal ganglion cell loss in patients with homonymous hemianopsias from cortical visual impairment. This relationship is reflected in thinning of the GCC and maintains the topographic relationship of the visual field defect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1064
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Ophthalmology
StatePublished - Jun 11 2015


  • Ganglion cell complex
  • Homonymous hemianopsia
  • Occipital lobe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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