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Mov Disord. 2014 Jan;29(1):15-22. doi: 10.1002/mds.25741. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Venturing into the no-man's land of the retina in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Neurology, State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA; Department of Ophthalmology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA; SUNY Eye Institute, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA.


The development of optical coherence tomography (OCT) has led to increasing interest in the retina in Parkinson's disease (PD). The retina is a multilayered tissue: looking into the eye from the outside, these layers comprise the nerve fiber layer (NFL); the ganglion cell layer (GCL); the inner plexiform layer (IPL), which contains the interconnecting plexus, including tyrosine hydroxylase-positive (dopaminergic) fibers of amacrine cells; the inner nuclear layer; and several outer retinal layers. Commercial spectral-domain OCT has a specific program for detecting peripapillary NFL defects and a different macular program for diabetic retinopathy. Specific programs for PD are not commercially available. Taking all studies together, it seems that macular programs have a higher diagnostic yield than NFL programs, but the numbers of studies and examined patients are relatively small. It is not certain that all retinal thinning in PD is due to dopaminergic neuronal loss. When applying OCT, the where (region of interest) and the what of the focus of automated programs must be considered. With these caveats, one could take advantage of the power of OCT for looking in-depth into the terra incognita of individual retinal layers at the fovea and perhaps at other appropriate retinal locations.


Parkinson's disease; foveola; macula; optical coherence tomography; retinal nerve fiber layer

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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