In the present study, the changes in the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness associated with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) were examined by Cirrus high definition-optical coherence tomography (OCT), and the correlation between the RNFL thickness and the best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) was evaluated. A cross-sectional study was performed. Sixty-eight eyes from patients with LHON and 30 eyes from healthy individuals were scanned. Affected eyes were divided into 5 groups according to disease duration: Group 1, ≤3 months; group 2, 4-6 months; group 3, 7-9 months; group 4, 10-12 months; and group 5, >12 months. The RNFL thickness of the temporal, superior, nasal and inferior quadrants and the 360° average were compared between the LHON groups and the control group. The eyes in groups 1 and 2 were observed to have a thicker RNFL in the superior, nasal and inferior quadrants and a higher 360°-average RNFL thickness compared with those of the control group (P<0.05), the RNFL was observed to be thinner in the temporal quadrant in groups 1 and 2. The eyes in groups 3 and 4 showed a thinner RNFL in the temporal (P=0.001), superior and inferior (both P<0.05) quadrants, and a lower 360°-average RNFL thickness as compared with controls (P=0.001). No significant correlation was identified between BCVA and RNFL thickness. RNFL thickness was observed to undergo a unique process from thickening to thinning in the patients with LHON. Changes in different quadrants occurred at different time periods and the BCVA was not found to be correlated with RNFL thickness.
Keywords: Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy; optical coherence tomography; retinal nerve fiber layer.