Retinal structural abnormalities in young adults with psychosis spectrum disorders

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020 Mar 2;98:109825. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.109825. Epub 2019 Nov 21.


Background: Structural retinal architecture in living organisms became measurable with the development of optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanners. Single-layer analysis with spectral-domain OCT, among other techniques, may provide further insight into pathological changes in complex brain disorders such as psychosis spectrum disorders (PSD).

Methods: This study investigated potential thinning of retinal layers (retinal nerve fiber layer - RNFL, macular volume, macular thickness, ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer- GC-IPL, optic cup volume and cup-to-disk ratio) using a spectral-domain OCT device in 33 non-acute PSD patients (illness duration 5.9 ± 3.9 years) and 35 healthy controls.

Results: In comparison to age and gender matched controls, patients had bilateral reductions in GC-IPL layer thickness and macular volume. Macular central subfield thinning was found in the right eye, while average macular thickness was lower in the left eye only. RNFL thinning was not observed in patients in comparison to controls, but we noticed that status of this layer could be affected by daily dose of antipsychotics and by illness duration.

Conclusion: Taken together, our results reveal that retinal thinning is present in young adults with PSDs, but in comparison to the literature we found more prominent changes in both GC-IPL and macular volume/thickness, than in RNFL. Our findings may reflect synaptic loss and neuronal atrophy in non-acute young patients with psychosis.

Keywords: Optical coherence tomography; Psychosis; Retina; Schizophrenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / pathology
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / pathology
  • Male
  • Optic Disk / pathology
  • Psychotic Disorders / pathology*
  • Retina / abnormalities*
  • Retinal Neurons / pathology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents