Objective: To assess eyes with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) for morphologic retinal abnormalities utilizing high-definition optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 39 patients with NMO spectrum disorders and 39 age- and sex-matched healthy controls underwent spectral-domain OCT and visual function testing. Results: Microcystic macular edema (MME) of the inner nuclear layer (INL) was identified in 10 of 39 patients (26%) and was exclusively found in eyes with a history of optic neuritis (ON). MME eyes had lower high- and low-contrast letter-acuity scores (100%: p = 0.002; 2.5%: p = 0.002; 1.25%: p = 0.004), lower peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness (p = 0.04), lower macular RNFL thickness (p = 0.004), lower ganglion cell layer + inner plexiform layer (GCIP) thickness (p = 0.007), higher INL thickness (p < 0.001), and a greater number of ON episodes (p = 0.008) relative to non-MME eyes with a history of ON. After adjusting for history of multiple ON episodes, these findings remained significant for macular-RNFL thickness (p = 0.03), INL thickness (p < 0.001), and 100% and 2.5% contrast letter-acuity scores (p = 0.008 and p = 0.03, respectively). NMO spectrum eyes without ON history had lower macular RNFL thickness (p = 0.003), GCIP thickness (p = 0.002), outer nuclear layer thickness (p = 0.02), and low-contrast letter-acuity scores (2.5%: p = 0.03; 1.25%: p = 0.002) compared to healthy controls. Conclusions: We have identified a pattern of retinal morphologic abnormalities in NMO that is associated with severe retinal axonal and neuronal loss and corresponding visual disability. MME may contribute to poor visual outcomes following NMO-associated ON or alternatively represent a marker of ON severity. Additionally, our results support that subclinical involvement of the anterior visual pathway may occur in NMO spectrum disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology