Retinal layer segmentation in patients with multiple sclerosis using spectral domain optical coherence tomography

Ophthalmology. 2014 Feb;121(2):573-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.09.035. Epub 2013 Nov 20.


Purpose: To evaluate the thickness of the 10 retinal layers in the paramacular area of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) compared with healthy subjects using the new segmentation technology of spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT). To examine which layer has better sensitivity for detecting neurodegeneration in patients with MS.

Design: Observational, cross-sectional study.

Participants: Patients with MS (n = 204) and age-matched healthy subjects (n = 138).

Methods: The Spectralis OCT system (Heidelberg Engineering, Inc., Heidelberg, Germany) was used to obtain automated segmentation of all retinal layers in a parafoveal scan in 1 randomly selected eye of each participant, using the new segmentation application prototype.

Main outcome measures: The thicknesses of 512 parafoveal points in the 10 retinal layers were obtained in each eye, and the mean thickness of each layer was calculated and compared between patients with MS and healthy subjects. The analysis was repeated, comparing patients with MS with and without previous optic neuritis. Correlation analysis was performed to evaluate the association between each retinal layer mean thickness, duration of disease, and functional disability in patients with MS. A logistic regression analysis was performed to determine which layer provided better sensitivity for detecting neurodegeneration in patients with MS.

Results: All retinal layers, except the inner limiting membrane, were thinner in patients with MS compared with healthy subjects (P < 0.05). Greater effects were observed in the inner retinal layers (nerve fiber, ganglion cells, inner plexiform, and inner nuclear layers) of eyes with previous optic neuritis (P < 0.05). The retinal nerve fiber layer and ganglion cell layer thicknesses were inversely correlated with the functional disability score in patients with MS. The ganglion cell layer and inner plexiform layer thicknesses could predict axonal damage in patients with MS.

Conclusions: Analysis based on the segmentation technology of the Spectralis OCT revealed retinal layer atrophy in patients with MS, especially of the inner layers. Reduction of the ganglion cell and inner plexiform layers predicted greater axonal damage in patients with MS.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Axons / pathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnosis*
  • Optic Neuritis / physiopathology
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence*
  • Visual Acuity
  • Young Adult