Progressive Changes in the Retinal Structure of Patients with Parkinson's Disease

J Parkinsons Dis. 2018;8(1):85-92. doi: 10.3233/JPD-171184.


Background: Many optical coherence tomography (OCT) studies have reported alterations in the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) in Parkinson's disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative diseases. However, whether retinal alterations are a biomarker for PD is still controversial.

Objective: To investigate potential correlations between PD and morphological changes in retina using OCT and to determine its usefulness as a biomarker of disease progression in PD.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study on patients with PD (N = 37) and age-matched controls (N = 42), followed by a longitudinal study of the PD patients (N = 22) over approximately 2.5 years.

Results: The average retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness (p < 0.001), total macular thickness (p = 0.001), and macular volume (p = 0.001) were decreased in PD patients compared to controls and had further decreased at the follow-up visit (p < 0.05 for all). The average RNFL thickness and the total thickness of macular were negatively correlated with age in PD patients at baseline. Linear regression analysis revealed that age (p = 0.002, p = 0.003, respectively) and LEDD (p = 0.011, p = 0.013, respectively) were correlated to total thickness and volume of macular in 22 PD patients in the follow-up study. However, no correlation was found between RNFL and other parameters.

Conclusions: PD progression is associated with pronounced retinal structure changes, which can be quantified by OCT. Patterns of RNFL and macular damage detected by the noninvasive technology of OCT can be a useful biomarker for evaluating the progression of PD.

Keywords: Macular; Parkinson’s disease; optical coherence tomography; retinal nerve fiber layer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence