Updated: 7/1/2017

Pupillary Response

Review Topic

  • Basic principle
    • the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system control the pupil
      • parasympathetic fibers lead to pupillary constriction (miosis)
      • sympathetic fibers lead to pupillary dilation (mydriasis)
        • as well as controlling the
          • superior tarsal muscle 
            • elevates the upper lid
          • smooth muscle orbitalis 
            • prevents eye sinking into the orbit
          • facial and neck cutaneous arteries and sweat glands
  • Miosis
    • light enters the eye which activates
      • retinal ganglion cells that will project axons into the optic nerve → optic chiasm → optic tract and then reach the
        • pretectal nucleus
    • fibers from the pretectal nucleus project to the Edinger-Westphal nucleus
      • pre-ganglionic parasympathetic fibers exit the Edinger-Westphal nucleus and synapse in the
        • ciliary ganglion
    • post-ganglionic parasympathetic fibers from the ciliary ganglion innervate the
      • pupillary constrictor muscles causing uniform bilateral miosis
  • Mydriasis
    • sympathetic fibers from many hypothalamic nuclei descend and reach T1 and T2 spinal cord levels
      • pre-ganglionic sympathetic fibers exit the T1 and T2 spinal cord level to join the paravertebral sympathetic chain (via the white ramus) and
        • synapse to the superior cervical ganglion
    • post-ganglionic sympathetic fibers ascend via the carotid plexus of the internal carotid artery, goes through the cavernous sinus, and synapses to the
      • pupillary dilator muscle
Select Pupillary Defects
Pupillary Defect
Horner syndrome
  • Pathogenesis inolves impairment in sympathetic pathways to the eye and face which results in
    • ptosis
      • secondary to impaired innervation into the upper lid smooth muscles
    • miosis
      • secondary to impaired innervation into the pupillary dilator muscles
    • anhidrosis
Marcus Gunn pupil
  • Describes an afferent pupillary defect resulting in
    • the affected eye is not sensitive to the light
      • there is minimal or absent pupillary constriction of the affected eye to light
  • A lesion may affect
    • eye
    • retina
    • optic nerve
  • Afferent pupillary defects can be detected with
    • swinging flashlight test which will show
      • the affected pupil dilate when exposed to the penlight
Argyll Robertson pupil
  • A type of light-near dissociation where
    • the eye does not constrict in response to light as much as it does with accomodation
  • Associated with neurosyphilis
Adie's myotonic pupil
  • A type of light-near dissociation where
    • the eye does not constrict in response to light as much as it does with accomodation
  • Secondary to
    • degeneration of the
      • ciliary ganglion
      • postganglionic parasympathetic neurons

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Questions (1)
Lab Values
Blood, Plasma, Serum Reference Range
ALT 8-20 U/L
Amylase, serum 25-125 U/L
AST 8-20 U/L
Bilirubin, serum (adult) Total // Direct 0.1-1.0 mg/dL // 0.0-0.3 mg/dL
Calcium, serum (Ca2+) 8.4-10.2 mg/dL
Cholesterol, serum Rec: < 200 mg/dL
Cortisol, serum 0800 h: 5-23 μg/dL //1600 h:
3-15 μg/dL
2000 h: ≤ 50% of 0800 h
Creatine kinase, serum Male: 25-90 U/L
Female: 10-70 U/L
Creatinine, serum 0.6-1.2 mg/dL
Electrolytes, serum  
Sodium (Na+) 136-145 mEq/L
Chloride (Cl-) 95-105 mEq/L
Potassium (K+) 3.5-5.0 mEq/L
Bicarbonate (HCO3-) 22-28 mEq/L
Magnesium (Mg2+) 1.5-2.0 mEq/L
Estriol, total, serum (in pregnancy)  
24-28 wks // 32-36 wks 30-170 ng/mL // 60-280 ng/mL
28-32 wk // 36-40 wks 40-220 ng/mL // 80-350 ng/mL
Ferritin, serum Male: 15-200 ng/mL
Female: 12-150 ng/mL
Follicle-stimulating hormone, serum/plasma Male: 4-25 mIU/mL
Female: premenopause: 4-30 mIU/mL
midcycle peak: 10-90 mIU/mL
postmenopause: 40-250
pH 7.35-7.45
PCO2 33-45 mmHg
PO2 75-105 mmHg
Glucose, serum Fasting: 70-110 mg/dL
2-h postprandial:<120 mg/dL
Growth hormone - arginine stimulation Fasting: <5 ng/mL
Provocative stimuli: > 7ng/mL
Immunoglobulins, serum  
IgA 76-390 mg/dL
IgE 0-380 IU/mL
IgG 650-1500 mg/dL
IgM 40-345 mg/dL
Iron 50-170 μg/dL
Lactate dehydrogenase, serum 45-90 U/L
Luteinizing hormone, serum/plasma Male: 6-23 mIU/mL
Female: follicular phase: 5-30 mIU/mL
midcycle: 75-150 mIU/mL
postmenopause 30-200 mIU/mL
Osmolality, serum 275-295 mOsmol/kd H2O
Parathyroid hormone, serume, N-terminal 230-630 pg/mL
Phosphatase (alkaline), serum (p-NPP at 30° C) 20-70 U/L
Phosphorus (inorganic), serum 3.0-4.5 mg/dL
Prolactin, serum (hPRL) < 20 ng/mL
Proteins, serum  
Total (recumbent) 6.0-7.8 g/dL
Albumin 3.5-5.5 g/dL
Globulin 2.3-3.5 g/dL
Thyroid-stimulating hormone, serum or plasma .5-5.0 μU/mL
Thyroidal iodine (123I) uptake 8%-30% of administered dose/24h
Thyroxine (T4), serum 5-12 μg/dL
Triglycerides, serum 35-160 mg/dL
Triiodothyronine (T3), serum (RIA) 115-190 ng/dL
Triiodothyronine (T3) resin uptake 25%-35%
Urea nitrogen, serum 7-18 mg/dL
Uric acid, serum 3.0-8.2 mg/dL
Hematologic Reference Range
Bleeding time 2-7 minutes
Erythrocyte count Male: 4.3-5.9 million/mm3
Female: 3.5-5.5 million mm3
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (Westergren) Male: 0-15 mm/h
Female: 0-20 mm/h
Hematocrit Male: 41%-53%
Female: 36%-46%
Hemoglobin A1c ≤ 6 %
Hemoglobin, blood Male: 13.5-17.5 g/dL
Female: 12.0-16.0 g/dL
Hemoglobin, plasma 1-4 mg/dL
Leukocyte count and differential  
Leukocyte count 4,500-11,000/mm3
Segmented neutrophils 54%-62%
Bands 3%-5%
Eosinophils 1%-3%
Basophils 0%-0.75%
Lymphocytes 25%-33%
Monocytes 3%-7%
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin 25.4-34.6 pg/cell
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration 31%-36% Hb/cell
Mean corpuscular volume 80-100 μm3
Partial thromboplastin time (activated) 25-40 seconds
Platelet count 150,000-400,000/mm3
Prothrombin time 11-15 seconds
Reticulocyte count 0.5%-1.5% of red cells
Thrombin time < 2 seconds deviation from control
Plasma Male: 25-43 mL/kg
Female: 28-45 mL/kg
Red cell Male: 20-36 mL/kg
Female: 19-31 mL/kg
Cerebrospinal Fluid Reference Range
Cell count 0-5/mm3
Chloride 118-132 mEq/L
Gamma globulin 3%-12% total proteins
Glucose 40-70 mg/dL
Pressure 70-180 mm H2O
Proteins, total < 40 mg/dL
Sweat Reference Range
Chloride 0-35 mmol/L
Calcium 100-300 mg/24 h
Chloride Varies with intake
Creatinine clearance Male: 97-137 mL/min
Female: 88-128 mL/min
Estriol, total (in pregnancy)  
30 wks 6-18 mg/24 h
35 wks 9-28 mg/24 h
40 wks 13-42 mg/24 h
17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Male: 3.0-10.0 mg/24 h
Female: 2.0-8.0 mg/24 h
17-Ketosteroids, total Male: 8-20 mg/24 h
Female: 6-15 mg/24 h
Osmolality 50-1400 mOsmol/kg H2O
Oxalate 8-40 μg/mL
Potassium Varies with diet
Proteins, total < 150 mg/24 h
Sodium Varies with diet
Uric acid Varies with diet
Body Mass Index (BMI) Adult: 19-25 kg/m2

(M1.NE.31) A 50-year-old woman with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) presents to your clinic with complaints of left eye pain and reduced vision. She notes that she was in her usual state of health until 3 days prior to presentation when she noticed some mild tenderness around her left eye, unrelieved by any pain relievers. This morning when she woke up she was unable to see out of her left eye and made an appointment to come see you. Other than SLE, her medical history is unremarkable. She has had no additional symptoms other than pain and vision loss. Her vital signs are all within normal limits. On exam, she has no vision in her left eye, but 20/30 visual acuity in her right eye. When you shine a light in her left eye there is no response. What response would you expect when you shine a light in her right eye? Review Topic

QID: 101695

Bilateral mydriasis




Bilateral miosis




Miosis of the right eye only




Miosis of the left eye only




Mydriasis of the left eye




Select Answer to see Preferred Response

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