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Study Provides Physical Evidence Confirming Value of OCT Eye Imaging for Tracking Nerve Health in People with MS

September 28, 2016

Summary
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an easy-to-use eye scanning method that is increasingly used in research to track nerve damage in the back of the eye in people with multiple sclerosis.
  • Evolving research suggests that observations in the eye may echo more global damage in the brain during the course of MS. With funding from the National MS Society, investigators at the University of Wisconsin, Madison successfully uncovered physical evidence that confirms that OCT changes indeed reflect actual damage to the optic nerve.
  • This study provides further confirmation of the value of using OCT to track nerve health in research studies, including clinical trials of nerve-protecting strategies in MS and other disorders.
Details

Background: Multiple sclerosis causes diverse damage to tissues in the brain and spinal cord, and finding ways to protect against that damage is a research priority. While this research is advancing, there is a need for ways to quickly detect whether nerve-protecting approaches are working. One technique under study for this purpose in MS is optical coherence tomography (OCT), a non-invasive and easy-to-use method that is increasingly used in research to identify unsuspected damage in nerve fibers at the back of the eye.
Evolving research has suggested that observations in the eye may echo more global damage in the brain during the course of MS, making it a possible window for tracking nerve health.

This Study: With funding from the National MS Society, investigators at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, led by Dr. Ian Duncan, set out to find physical evidence in a lab model to link actual damage to the myelin coating on nerve fibers in the optic nerve, and nerve fiber damage, with readings from OCT scans in a lab model. The team reported physical evidence that OCT changes seen at the back of the eye indeed reflect actual damage to the optic nerve.

This study provides independent evidence confirming the value of OCT as an indicator of nerve health and loss, and potentially progression of MS and other disorders.

Reference
Leandro B. C. Teixeira; James N. Ver Hoeve; Joshua A. Mayer; Richard R. Dubielzig; Chelsey M. Smith; Abigail B. Radcliff; Ian D. Duncan. Modeling the Chronic Loss of Optic Nerve Axons and the Effects on the Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Structure in Primary Disorder of Myelin. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science September 2016, Vol.57, 4859-4868. doi:10.1167/iovs.16-19871
 
Read more about OCT and MS Research
Read more about research into MS tissue damage

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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