To determine whether the uniform field and pattern ERGs that are reduced in macaque eyes with experimental glaucoma have the same inner-retinal origins.
ERGs were recorded from 14 anesthetized adult macaques using DTL electrodes. Six monkeys had laser-induced experimental glaucoma, and two others received intravitreal injections of tetrodotoxin (TTX, 6 microM) to block spiking activity of inner-retinal neurons. The remaining 6 animals were normal. Uniform fields and grating patterns (0.1-3 cpd) were square-wave modulated at 1.7 Hz (transient) and 8 Hz (steady state). The test field (42 degrees x 32 degrees) had a mean luminance of 44 cd/m2 and a contrast of 10% to 82%.
In normal eyes transient ERGs to uniform fields contained photopic negative responses (PhNR) after the b-wave and after the d-wave. Transient pattern electroretinograms (PERGs) at each contrast reversal showed positive (P50) potentials followed by negative (N95) potentials of time course similar to that of the PhNR. The PhNR and N95 were greatly reduced or eliminated by experimental glaucoma and by TTX. Summing responses to luminance increments and decrements of the uniform field could simulate the PERG to low spatial frequency stimuli. Further, the PERG responses to high spatial frequencies were similar to the simulation in shape but slightly delayed in time. Experimental glaucoma and TTX had similar effects on the N95 of the simulated PERG as to those on the actual PERG. However, P50 was more reduced by experimental glaucoma than by TTX, indicating a nonspiking contribution to P50. For the steady state condition, the uniform field ERG, the simulated PERG, and the actual PERG all were affected by experimental glaucoma and TTX, indicating that they contained contributions from the spiking activity of ganglion cells.
The changes in the uniform field and PERG responses produced by experimental glaucoma are related and are largely a consequence of reduced spiking activity of ganglion cells and their axons. These findings raise the possibility that the uniform field ERG could serve as a useful alternative to the PERG in the assessment of clinical glaucomatous neuropathy.