OCT-A Detects Greater Loss of Retinal Microvasculature in Patients With MS

A greater loss of retinal microvasculature is seen among patients with MS compared with healthy individuals.

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), compared with healthy individuals, experience an increased loss of retinal microvasculature, according to study results presented at the 2023 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, held from May 31 to June 3 in Aurora, Colorado.

Retinal tissue thickness has demonstrated an association with central nervous system atrophy, along with clinical and radiologic progression in patients with MS. The role played by retinal microvasculature, evaluated via optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A), however, as well as its relationship with diagnosis and prognosis of disease, remains to be elucidated.

Utilizing OCT-A, researchers sought to assess retinal microvascular loss in patients with MS compared with a group of healthy individuals without the disorder. They conducted a retrospective, case-control study in patients with MS and 20 healthy individuals. Additionally, retinal nerve fiber layer thickness was examined in a subgroup of 13 patients with MS. In these individuals, the superficial and deep retinal complexes, as well as the foveal avascular zone (FAZ), were evaluated with OCT-A.

Results from these analyses were compared with those using the following MS clinical parameters:

  • Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS)
  • Nine-Hole Peg Test (9HPT; used for upper-extremity dexterity)
  • 25-Foot Walk Test (T25-FWT; used for lower-extremity function)
  • Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT; used for cognitive processing speed)
In the noninvasive assessment of patients with MS, OCT-A may provide additional value.

The researchers found no differences in macular vessel density or intensity were detected between patients with MS and healthy individuals. In patients with MS compared with healthy individuals, however, statistically significant increases in the superficial FAZ perimeter and the deep FAZ perimeter were observed (P =.021 and P =.003, respectively).

Further, according to statistical analysis, a significant association was reported between deep FAZ and SDMT (P <.01); however, there was no significant relationship observed between FAZ and EDSS, 9HPT, or T25-FWT.

“Patients with MS have a greater loss of retinal microvasculature compared to C [controls], moreover, the severity of foveal vessel loss strongly correlated with decreased cognitive processing speed,” the researchers explained. “In the noninvasive assessment of patients with MS, OCT-A may provide additional value,” they concluded.

Disclosure: Some of the study authors have declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor


Yausheva LM, Do J, Peterson J, Leeman S, Ionete C, Hemond C. Multiple sclerosis is associated with retinal microvascular loss. Abstract presented at: CMSC 2023; May 31-June 3, 2023; Aurora, CO. Abstract IMG12.