Purpose: We used high-resolution spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) with retinal segmentation to determine how ganglion cell loss relates to history of acute optic neuritis (ON), retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thinning, visual function, and vision-related quality of life (QOL) in multiple sclerosis (MS). Design: Cross-sectional study. Participants: A convenience sample of patients with MS (n = 122; 239 eyes) and disease-free controls (n = 31; 61 eyes). Among MS eyes, 87 had a history of ON before enrollment. Methods: The SD-OCT images were captured using Macular Cube (200×200 or 512×128) and ONH Cube 200×200 protocols. Retinal layer segmentation was performed using algorithms established for glaucoma studies. Thicknesses of the ganglion cell layer/inner plexiform layer (GCL+IPL), RNFL, outer plexiform/inner nuclear layers (OPL+INL), and outer nuclear/photoreceptor layers (ONL+PRL) were measured and compared in MS versus control eyes and MS ON versus non-ON eyes. The relation between changes in macular thickness and visual disability was also examined. Main Outcome Measures: The OCT measurements of GCL+IPL and RNFL thickness; high contrast visual acuity (VA); low-contrast letter acuity (LCLA) at 2.5% and 1.25% contrast; on the 25-item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25) and 10-Item Neuro-Ophthalmic Supplement composite score. Results: Macular RNFL and GCL+IPL were significantly decreased in MS versus control eyes (P<0.001 and P = 0.001) and in MS ON versus non-ON eyes (P<0.001 for both measures). Peripapillary RNFL, macular RNFL, GCL+IPL, and the combination of macular RNFL+GCL+IPL were significantly correlated with VA (P≤0.001), 2.5% LCLA (P<0.001), and 1.25% LCLA (P≤0.001). Among OCT measurements, reductions in GCL+IPL (P<0.001), macular RNFL (P = 0.006), and the combination (macular RNFL+GCL+IPL; P<0.001) were most strongly associated with lower (worse) NEI-VFQ-25 and 10-Item Supplement QOL scores; GCL+IPL thinning was significant even accounting for macular RNFL thickness (P = 0.03 for GCL+IPL, P = 0.39 for macular RNFL). Conclusions: We demonstrated that GCL+IPL thinning is most significantly correlated with both visual function and vision-specific QOL in MS, and may serve as a useful structural marker of disease. Our findings parallel those of magnetic resonance imaging studies that show gray matter disease is a marker of neurologic disability in MS. Financial Disclosure(s): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.
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