Role for OCT in detecting hemi-macular ganglion cell layer thinning in patients with multiple sclerosis and related demyelinating diseases

Marissa Ilardi, Rachel Nolan-Kenney, Girish Fatterpekar, Lisena Hasanaj, Liliana Serrano, Binu Joseph, Shirley Wu, Janet C. Rucker, Laura J. Balcer, Steven L. Galetta

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1 Scopus citations


Objective: Investigations have found associations of homonymous thinning of the macular ganglion cell/ inner-plexiform layer (GCIPL) with demyelinating lesions in the post-chiasmal visual pathway among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Retinal thinning may also occur through retrograde trans-synaptic degeneration, a process by which lesions in post-geniculate visual pathway structures lead to thinning of the GCIPL across thalamic synapses. The purpose of our study was to determine the frequency of homonymous hemimacular thinning that occurs in association with post-chiasmal visual pathway demyelinating lesions in patients with MS and other demyelinating diseases. Methods: Adult patients with demyelinating diseases (MS, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder [NMOSD], myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disease (anti-MOG)) who were participants in an ongoing observational study of visual pathway structure and function were analyzed for the presence of hemimacular GCIPL thinning on OCT scans. Brain MRI scans were examined for the presence of post-geniculate visual pathway demyelinating lesions. Results: Among 135 participants in the visual pathway study, 5 patients (3.7%) had homonymous hemimacular GCIPL thinning. Eleven patients (8.1%) had a whole+half pattern of GCIPL thinning, characterized by hemimacular thinning in one eye and circumferential macular thinning in the contralateral eye. All but one patient with homonymous hemimacular thinning had demyelinating lesions in the post-geniculate visual pathway; however, these lesions were located in both cerebral hemispheres. Conclusion: Homonymous hemimacular thinning in the GCIPL by OCT is associated with post-chiasmal visual pathway demyelinating lesions but it appears to be a relatively uncommon contributor to GCIPL loss. Patients with this pattern of GCIPL often fail to complain of hemifield visual loss. Future studies with prospective and detailed MR imaging may be able to more closely associate demyelinating lesions in anatomically appropriate regions of the post-chiasmal visual pathways with homonymous hemimacular thinning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117159
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Demyelinating disease
  • Ganglion cell layer
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)


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