School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

OCT in Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological inflammatory disease that causes many symptoms, including physical and cognitive impairments, by damaging the protective cover of the nerve (myelin).  MS often presents with Optic Neuritis, an inflammation of the Optic Nerve, which is the pathway of the nerves between the eye and the brain.  While this can be resolved with treatment, and often the patient’s vision returns to close to baseline, there may be lasting damage to the nerves that were effected.

The retina holds the potential to be a “window” into the brain, as it contains unmyelinated neurons and axons.  For MS, the most important layer is the top layer, or the Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer (RNFL) because it is associated with unmyelinated axons.  OCT images have shown correlations between thinning in the RNFL and clinical outcomes in MS, even in patients who have never experienced attacks of Optic Neuritis.  Monitoring of retinal fiber thinning is proving useful in tracking the progression of the disease in MS, and OCT is becoming a more widely used clinical tool here in the Neurology Department.

What our lab is investigating

•OCT RNFL thinning, difference among races with MS
MS and the presence of Microcystic Macular Edema in relation to disease severity
•Correlation of OCT outcomes and MRI outcomes in MS patients

Top image: The green line indicates the location of where the OCT image is taken around the Optic Nerve Head (ONH)


Second Image: The OCT scan is automatically segmented between the two red lines (the internal limiting membrane to the Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer (RNFL))


Third Image: The black line indicates the RNFL  thickness for this patient.  Color coding is as indicated between the two graphs.


Bottom: Pie charts indicate sector thickness in the nasal, temporal, superior and inferior areas around the ONH, indicating borderline thinning in the temporal segment in the left eye.