The combination of OCT and OCT angiography showed that multiple sclerosis is associated with retinal structural loss and decreased optic nerve head perfusion in eyes with and without a history of optic neuritis.
The study included 68 eyes of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) with or without optic neuritis and 55 healthy control eyes examined at the Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University.
OCT was used to evaluate the thickness of the peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and the macular ganglion cell complex (GCC), that respectively reflect axonal damage and retinal ganglion cell loss.
OCT angiography was used to measure vessel density and flow velocity in the capillary network and area of large retinal vessels and to translate these data into an Optic Nerve Head Flow Index (ONH-FI).
A significant reduction in RNFL thickness and ONH-FI was found in eyes of MS patients, both with and without optic neuritis. In the group of MS patients with optic neuritis, the GCC thickness was significantly reduced.
The presence of vascular risk factors did not correlate with ONH-FI, supporting the interpretation that the reduction of optic nerve perfusion is a sequela of MS rather than vascular comorbidities.
“The combination of perfusion and structural measurements enhances detection of optic nerve damage in MS,” the authors wrote. “OCT angiography may be a useful additional retinal marker in the evaluation of optic neuritis in MS.” – by Michela Cimberle
Disclosure: Spain reported no conflict of interest. Please see the study for the other authors’ financial disclosures.