The mechanisms of vision loss associated with a cotton wool spot

Toco Y.P. Chui, Larry N. Thibos, Arthur Bradley, Stephen A. Burns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We characterized the perceptual, functional, and structural abnormalities associated with retinal ischemia during a cotton wool spot episode and its sequelae. The border of the visually salient field anomaly mirrored the quantitatively measured relative scotoma. Results of resolution perimetry and high resolution imaging indicated that there was a substantial loss of retinal ganglion cells within the affected region. A disruption in retinal nerve fiber arrangement was found at the cotton wool spot and within the arcuate relative scotoma. The presence of the arcuate relative scotoma is consistent with the hypothesis of failed signal transmission along the axons that pass through the cotton wool spot. The different levels of loss associated with the arcuate and focal scotomas indicate different underlying pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2826-2834
Number of pages9
JournalVision Research
Issue number23
StatePublished - 23 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive optics
  • Cotton wool spot
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Retinal nerve fiber layer
  • Retinal sampling
  • Scanning laser ophthalmoscope


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