The ipRGC-Driven Pupil Response with Light Exposure, Refractive Error, and Sleep

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Abstract

SIGNIFICANCE

We investigated links between the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, light exposure, refractive error, and sleep. Results showed that morning melatonin was associated with light exposure, with modest differences in sleep quality between myopes and emmetropes. Findings suggest a complex relationship between light exposure and these physiological processes.

PURPOSE

Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) signal environmental light, with pathways to the midbrain to control pupil size and circadian rhythm. Evidence suggests that light exposure plays a role in refractive error development. Our goal was to investigate links between light exposure, ipRGCs, refractive error, and sleep.

METHODS

Fifty subjects, aged 17–40, participated (19 emmetropes and 31 myopes). A subset of subjects (n = 24) wore an Actiwatch Spectrum for 1 week. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was administered, and saliva samples were collected for melatonin analysis. The post-illumination pupil response (PIPR) to 1 s and 5 s long- and short-wavelength stimuli was measured. Pupil metrics included the 6 s and 30 s PIPR and early and late area under the curve.

RESULTS

Subjects spent 104.8 ± 46.6 min outdoors per day over the previous week. Morning melatonin concentration (6.9 ± 3.5 pg/ml) was significantly associated with time outdoors and objectively measured light exposure (P = .01 and .002, respectively). Pupil metrics were not significantly associated with light exposure or refractive error. PSQI scores indicated good sleep quality for emmetropes (score 4.2 ± 2.3) and poor sleep quality for myopes (5.6 ± 2.2, P = .04).

CONCLUSIONS

We found that light exposure and time outdoors influenced morning melatonin concentration. No differences in melatonin or the ipRGC-driven pupil response were observed between refractive error groups, although myopes exhibited poor sleep quality compared to emmetropes. Findings suggest that a complex relationship between light exposure, ipRGCs, refractive error, and sleep exists.

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