Adie’s Pupil

Other Known Aliases – Holmes-Adie pupil

Definition – pupil with parasympathetic denervation that constricts poorly to light, but reacts better to accommodation.

Clinical SignificanceThe tonic pupil is the result of damage to the parasympathetic ciliary ganglion and the exact pathological cause is still unknown, but infectious inflammation to the ciliary ganglion is the most commonly accepted etiology. Adie’s pupils are hypersensitive to very low dose acetylcholine agonists, such as pilocarpine, and is used to diagnose this condition.

HistoryNamed after William John Adie (1886-1935), who was a British physician and neurologist and received his medical doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in 1911. Upon graduating, he served in the British military during World War I as a medical officer. Following the war, he worked in various hospitals practicing neurology and making a name for himself, culminating in Fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians in 1926. He was also one of the founders of the Association of British Neurologists in 1932. The history of the eponym is interesting because there were numerous publications prior to Adie’s work describing this clinical syndrome and Adie referenced them in his 1931 article. The eponymonic term was given to him by French neurologist Jean-Alexandre Barré in 1934. Also, Gordon Morgan Holmes contemporaneously published the same findings in the same year. This led to the common eponym Holmes-Adie pupils.


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  6. Adie WJ. Pseudo-Argyll Robertson pupils with absent tendon reflexes. A benign disorder simulating tabes dorsalis. British Medical Journal, London, 1931, I: 928-930. [article]
  7. Holmes GM. Partial iridoplegia associated with symptoms of other disease of the nervous system. Transactions of the Ophthalmological Societies of the United Kingdom, 1931, 51: 209-228.

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