Background: The International Multiple Sclerosis Visual System Consortium (IMSVISUAL) was formed in November 2014 with the primary goal of improving research, care, and education regarding the role of the visual system in multiple sclerosis (MS) and related disorders.
Methods: In this review, we describe the formation, goals, activities, and structure of IMSVISUAL, as well as the relationship of IMSVISUAL with the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ACTRIMS). Finally, we provide an overview of the work IMSVISUAL has completed to date, as well as an outline of research projects ongoing under the auspices of IMSVISUAL.
Results: IMSVISUAL has 140 members worldwide and continues to grow. Through IMSVISUAL-related research, optical coherence tomography (OCT)-derived peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (pRNFL) thinning has been established as a predictor of future disability in MS. IMSVISUAL has also developed guidelines for reporting OCT studies in MS. Moreover, a systematic review performed by IMSVISUAL found that not only are pRNFL and ganglion cell + inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) thicknesses reduced in patients with MS (particularly in eyes with prior optic neuritis [ON]), but that inner nuclear layer measures may be higher among MS ON eyes, relative to healthy control eyes. Currently, there are several ongoing IMSVISUAL projects that will establish a role for visual outcomes in diagnosing MS and quantifying the effects of emerging therapies in clinical trials.
Conclusions: The development of IMSVISUAL represents a major collaborative commitment to defining the role of visual outcomes in high-quality, large-scale studies that generate definitive and instructive findings in the field of MS. As a consortium, IMSVISUAL has completed several international collaborative projects, is actively engaged in numerous ongoing research studies, and is committed to expanding the role of vision research in MS and related disorders.