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Quantitative Oculomotor Assessment in Hereditary Ataxia: Discriminatory Power, Correlation with Severity Measures, and Recommended Parameters for Specific Genotypes

Characterizing bedside oculomotor deficits is a critical factor in defining the clinical presentation of hereditary ataxias. Quantitative assessments are increasingly available and have significant advantages, including comparability over time, reduced examiner dependency, and sensitivity to subtle changes. To delineate the potential of quantitative oculomotor assessments as digital-motor outcome measures for clinical trials in ataxia, the authors searched MEDLINE for articles reporting on quantitative eye movement recordings in genetically confirmed or suspected hereditary ataxias, asking which paradigms are most promising for capturing disease progression and treatment response. Eighty-nine manuscripts identified reported on 1541 patients, including spinocerebellar ataxias (SCA2, n = 421), SCA3 (n = 268), SCA6 (n = 117), other SCAs (n = 97), Friedreich ataxia (FRDA, n = 178), Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC, n = 57), and ataxia-telangiectasia (n = 85) as largest cohorts. Whereas most studies reported discriminatory power of oculomotor assessments in diagnostics, few explored their value for monitoring genotype-specific disease progression (n = 2; SCA2) or treatment response (n = 8; SCA2, FRDA, NPC, ataxia-telangiectasia, episodic-ataxia 4). Oculomotor parameters correlated with disease severity measures including clinical scores (n = 18 studies (SARA: n = 9)), chronological measures (e.g., age, disease duration, time-to-symptom onset; n = 17), genetic stratification (n = 9), and imaging measures of atrophy (n = 5). Recurrent correlations across many ataxias (SCA2/3/17, FRDA, NPC) suggest saccadic eye movements as potentially generic quantitative oculomotor outcome. Recommendation of other paradigms was limited by the scarcity of cross-validating correlations, except saccadic intrusions (FRDA), pursuit eye movements (SCA17), and quantitative head-impulse testing (SCA3/6). This work aids in understanding the current knowledge of quantitative oculomotor parameters in hereditary ataxias, and identifies gaps for validation as potential trial outcome measures in specific ataxia genotypes.

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