Context: Retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thinning has been demonstrated in cases of optic neuritis (ON) and multiple sclerosis (MS) in Caucasian eyes, but no definite RNFL loss pattern or association with visual functions is known in Indian eyes. Aim : To evaluate RNFL thickness in cases of ON and MS, and to correlate it with visual function changes in Indian patients. Settings and Design: Cross-sectional case-control study at a tertiary level institution . Materials and Methods: Cases consisted of patients of (i) typical ON without a recent episode (n = 30:39 ON eyes and 21 fellow eyes), (ii) MS without ON (n = 15;30 eyes) while the controls were age-matched (n = 15; 30 eyes). RNFL thickness was measured using the Stratus 3 °CT. The visual functions tested included the best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), contrast sensitivity, stereopsis, visual evoked responses, and visual fields. Statistical analysis used: Intergroup analysis was done using ANOVA and Pearson's correlation coefficient used for associations. Results: RNFL thickness was reduced significantly in the ON and MS patients compared to the controls (P-0.001). Maximum loss is in the temporal quadrant. Lower visual function scores are associated with reduced average overall RNFL thickness. In ON group, RNFL thinning is associated with severe visual field defects while contrast sensitivity has strongest correlation with RNFL in the MS group. Conclusions:RNFL thickness is reduced in ON and MS cases in a pattern similar to Caucasians and is associated with the magnitude of impairment of other visual parameters. Contrast sensitivity and stereoacuity are useful tests to identify subclinical optic nerve involvement in multiple sclerosis.
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