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Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 7;6:29187. doi: 10.1038/srep29187.

Macular sub-layer thinning and association with pulmonary function tests in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Neurology, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Ophthalmology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a complex neurodegenerative disorder that may have anterior visual pathway involvement. In this study, we compare the macular structure of patients with ALS to healthy controls, and examine correlations between macular sub-layer thickness measurements and pulmonary function tests and disease duration. ALS patients underwent optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging to obtain macular cube scans of the right eye. Macular cube OCT data from age-matched healthy subjects were provided by the OCT reading center. Semi-automated retinal segmentation software was used to quantify macular sub-layers. Pulmonary function tests and time since symptom onset were collected retrospectively from the electronic medical records of ALS patients. Macular retinal nerve fiber layer was significantly thinner in ALS patients compared to healthy controls (Pā€‰<ā€‰0.05). Total macular and other sub-layer thicknesses were not reduced in the ALS cohort. Macular retinal nerve fiber layer thickness positively correlated with forced vital capacity % predicted and forced expiratory volume in 1 second % predicted (Pā€‰<ā€‰0.05). In conclusion, analysis of OCT measurements supports the involvement of the anterior visual pathway in ALS. Subtle structural thinning in the macular retinal nerve fiber layer correlates with pulmonary function tests.

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