Retinal inter-eye difference and atrophy progression in multiple sclerosis diagnostics

Background

The visual system could be included in the diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis (MS) to demonstrate dissemination in space (DIS) and dissemination in time (DIT).

Objective

To investigate the diagnostic value of retinal asymmetry in MS.

Methods

A prospective, longitudinal study in individuals with MS (n=151) and healthy controls (n=27). Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was performed at 0, 2 and 4 years. Macular ganglion cell and inner plexiform layer (mGCIPL) thickness was determined as well as measures for retinal asymmetry: the inter-eye percentage difference (IEPD) and inter-eye absolute difference (IEAD). Receiver operator characteristics curves were plotted and the area under the curve (AUC) was calculated for group comparisons of the mGCIPL, IEPD, IEAD and atrophy rates.

Results

The diagnostic accuracy of both the IEPD and IEAD for differentiating bilateral and unilateral MS optic neuritis was high and stable over time (AUCs 0.88–0.93). The IEPD slightly outperformed the IEAD. Atrophy rates showed low discriminatory abilities for differentiating MS from controls (AUC 0.49–0.58).

Conclusion

The inter-eye differences of the mGCIPL have value for demonstration of DIS but in individuals with longstanding MS not for DIT. This may be considered as a test to detect DIS in future diagnostic criteria. Validation in a large prospective study in people presenting with symptoms suggestive of MS is required.

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