Fixation instability and oculomotor abnormalities in Friedreich's ataxia
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Eye movements were studied in 13 patients with Friedreich's ataxia and correlated with MRI findings to investigate whether oculomotor abnormalities can be traced to cerebellar disturbances in this disease. One of the most prominent eye signs was fixation instability (square-wave jerks, SWJ.). Besides SWJ the patients showed various combinations of cerebellar, vestibular and brain-stem oculomotor signs. Our patients did not comprise a homogeneous group with regard to their oculomotor findings. There was no correlation between the severity of any of the so-called cerebellar oculomotor disturbances and the number of SWJ. We tried to correlate the extent of oculomotor disturbances with floccular atrophy and atrophy of the dorsal vermis on MRI in seven of the patients. None of the oculomotor features (including SWJ) correlated with flocculus or dorsal vermis size. Furthermore, floccular and vermal measurements on MRI were normal. Accordingly, we think it unlikely that the oculomotor disturbances, including SWJ, are attributable to cerebellar pathology per se.
Key wordsFriedreich's ataxia Fixation instability Oculomotor abnormalities Magnetic resonance imaging
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