Purpose: To evaluate B-mode ultrasound as a novel method for objective and quantitative assessment of a relative afferent pupillary defect (RAPD) in a prospective case-control study.
Methods: Seventeen patients with unilateral optic neuropathy and a clinically detectable RAPD and 17 age and sex matched healthy controls were examined with B-mode ultrasound using an Esaote-Mylab25 system according to current guidelines for orbital insonation. The swinging flashlight test was performed during ultrasound assessment with a standardized light stimulus using a penlight.
Results: B-mode ultrasound RAPD examination was doable in approximately 5 minutes only and was well tolerated by all participants. Compared to the unaffected contralateral eyes, eyes with RAPD showed lower absolute constriction amplitude of the pupillary diameter (mean [SD] 0.8 [0.4] vs. 2.1 [0.4] mm; p = 0.009) and a longer pupillary constriction time after ipsilateral light stimulus (mean [SD] 1240  vs. 710  ms; p= 0.008). In eyes affected by RAPD, visual acuity correlated with the absolute constriction amplitude (r= 0.75, p = 0.001).
Conclusions: B-mode ultrasound enables fast, easy and objective quantification of a RAPD and can thus be applied in clinical practice to document a RAPD.