September 2016
Volume 57, Issue 12
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Face stimulus challenges visual processing in age-related macular degeneration
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Pasi Vottonen
    Ophthalmology, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
  • Kai Kaarniranta
    Ophthalmology, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
    University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  • Ari Pääkkönen
    Clinical Neurophysiology, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
  • Ina M Tarkka
    Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Pasi Vottonen, None; Kai Kaarniranta, None; Ari Pääkkönen, None; Ina Tarkka, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  VTR grant and the Finnish Eye Foundation grant
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science September 2016, Vol.57, 3691. doi:
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      Pasi Vottonen, Kai Kaarniranta, Ari Pääkkönen, Ina M Tarkka; Face stimulus challenges visual processing in age-related macular degeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):3691.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : Early symptoms of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) include difficulty in face recognition. Our aim was to evaluate visual processing of faces in AMD patients.

Methods : This was a prospective interventional cohort study. Face recognition processes were studied in the brain using cortical event-related potentials in wet AMD patients. Additionally, treatment effect with anti-VEGF injections for 4 months was followed. Twelve patients and six control subjects participated in this study. Patients received three bevacizumab intravitreal injections to one affected eye. At baseline and 6 weeks after the last injection, the best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) test, full biomicroscope examination, OCT analysis and electrophysiological recording of the face task were performed. Face pictures were shown as targets (16.7%) among standard pictures of pixelated faces in an oddball-type paradigm.

Results : Face pictures elicited well-defined electrical components in occipital and parieto-occipital cortical areas at baseline and after treatment. Face-specific N170 component was pronounced in all subjects with longer peak latency in patients than in controls (170±13 vs. 155±14, p=.032). Unexpectedly an early unintentional prediction of perceiving a face, i.e. deviance-related negativity (DRN), was present in patients and controls. Visual acuity of the affected eye improved in patients from logMAR 0.71 (±0.33) to 0.52 (±0.39) by 119 (±23) days without significant change in face-specific electrical potentials.

Conclusions : Monocular wet AMD distinctly influenced face-specific brain electrophysiological components however; it did not abolish binocular face recognition ability. This evidence reinforces the view that only the vision of the better seeing eye has a marked influence in every-day life.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.


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