High and low contrast visual acuity are not affected in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Heather E. Moss, Monica Samelson, Girish Mohan, Qin Li Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The afferent visual system may be affected by neuro-degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) based on observations of visual function impairment and retinal inclusions on histopathology in ALS patients. To test the hypothesis that visual acuity is impaired in ALS, we compared three measures of visual acuity in ALS patients (n = 25) attending a multidisciplinary ALS clinic and age matched control subjects (n = 25). Bilateral monocular and binocular visual acuities were assessed using high contrast (black letters on white background) and low contrast (2.5%, 1.25% grey letters on white background) visual acuity charts under controlled lighting conditions following refraction. Binocular summation was calculated as the difference between binocular and best monocular acuity scores. There were no associations between binocular or monocular high contrast visual acuity or low contrast visual acuity and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis (generalized estimating equation models accounting for age). Binocular summation was similar in both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and control subjects. There was a small magnitude association between increased duration of ALS symptoms and reduced 1.25% low contrast visual acuity. This study does not confirm prior observations of impaired visual acuity in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and does not support this particular measure of visual function for use in broad scale assessment of visual pathway involvement in ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0168714
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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