Background: In primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) and its non-barotraumatic subgroup, normal tension glaucoma (NTG), the pathophysiological differences are not clear. A participation of the 4th neuron of the visual pathway (optic radiation) appears possible on the basis of related experimental studies. The goal of the present study was the evaluation of the optic radiation by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which is based on the magnetic resonance imaging. The diffusion and anisotropy parameters of the optic radiation as a marker of axonal integrity and demyelination/damage of glial cells, respectively, were used to investigate the relation between the morphology of the papilla (BLDF, linear discriminant function of Burk) and the contrast sensitivity (FDT, frequency doubling test).
Patients and methods: In this prospective observational study 13 POAG patients, 13 NTG patients, and 7 control patients of the same mean age were included. For segmentation of the optic radiation a semi-automated algorithm was applied and the diffusion and anisotropy parameters were calculated. The importance of the covariates age, BLDF, and FDT for the DTI parameters was determined using partial correlation analysis.
Results: Analysis of the covariates partially showed a clear autocorrelation. The correlations between the DTI parameters and BLDF were significant in all groups after correction of the measurement values for the covariates. FDT correlated with DTI parameters in controls and POAG. The NTG group did not show this correlation due to a strong spreading of the FDT values.
Conclusion: After statistical elimination of the autocorrelation of the covariates age, BLDF, and FDT the morphology of the papilla correlated with the axonal integrity and demyelination/glia cell impairment of the optic radiation in controls and glaucoma. In NTG the impaired contrast sensitivity is highly variable and is not associated with the condition of the 3rd or 4th neuron, respectively, as compared to POAG. The autocorrelation between individual covariates represents an important element for the judgement of the visual pathway.
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.