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Mythri Pullela, Mehmet N. Ağaoğlu, Anand C. Joshi, Sevda Agaoglu, David K. Coats, Vallabh E. Das; Neural Plasticity Following Surgical Correction of Strabismus in Monkeys. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(12):5011-5021. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-25245.
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Although widely practiced, surgical treatment of strabismus has varying levels of success and permanence. In this study we investigated adaptive responses within the brain and the extraocular muscles (EOM) that occur following surgery and therefore determine long-term success of the treatment.
Single cell responses were collected from cells in the oculomotor and abducens nuclei before and after two monkeys (M1, M2) with exotropia (divergent strabismus) underwent a strabismus correction surgery that involved weakening of the lateral rectus (LR) and strengthening of the medial rectus (MR) muscle of one eye. Eye movement and neuronal data were collected for up to 10 months after surgery during a monocular viewing smooth-pursuit task. These data were fit with a first-order equation and resulting coefficients were used to estimate the population neuronal drive (ND) to each EOM of both eyes.
Surgery resulted in a ∼70% reduction in strabismus angle in both animals that reverted toward presurgical misalignment by approximately 6 months after treatment. In the first month after surgery, the ND to the treated MR reduced in one animal and ND to the LR increased in the other animal, both indicating active neural plasticity that reduced the effectiveness of the treatment. Adaptive changes in ND to the untreated eye were also identified.
Active neural and muscle plasticity corresponding to both the treated and the untreated eye determines longitudinal success following surgical correction of strabismus. Outcome of surgical treatment could be improved by identifying ways to enhance “positive” adaptation and limit “negative” adaptation.
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