Background Minor cognitive deficits such as impaired intellectual performance, poor concentration and mental fatigue are common in patients with SLE and other autoimmune diseases.1 There is however no single reliable method for the detection of CNS involvement from autoimmune diseases.
Objectives A non-invasive, highly-sensitive testing method, infra-red oculography2 was used to investigate whether eye movements are affected in patients with suspected CNS involvement from various autoimmune diseases compared to a normal healthy control group.
Methods 10 patients (5 with SLE, 5 with other autoimmune diseases) with cognitive deficits and 10 control subjects were examined using infra-red oculography to measure disturbances of eye movements and to assess the usefulness in the evaluation of these patients.
Results There were no statistically significant differences between patients and controls when comparing amplitude, latency, duration and velocity of saccadic eye movements (SEM) but there was a significantly higher (p < 0.05) number of undershoots with corrective saccades in both groups of patients. In smooth pursuit eye movements (SPEM), there was no significant difference in the gain and delay between the patients and controls but a significantly higher number of correction saccades in patients (p < 0.01) could be shown.
Conclusion We conclude that the measurement of SEM and SPEM is a simple and non-invasive method for identifying suspected neuropsychiatric central nervous system involvement in patients with autoimmune disease.
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Meienberg O. Infrared reflection method for recording horizontal eye movements. An improved version for routine diagnostic studies. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 1987;55(5):158–63