Eye Test Found To Measure MS Damage

Researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas have found promise in a simple eye test in diagnosing multiple sclerosis at its very early stages. The said eye test is quick and painless and may also be used to track the effectiveness of treatments for the disease.

The eye measurement technique, called optical coherence tomography or OCT, measures the thinning of the retina, which usually is experienced by people with multiple sclerosis. The retina detects light and sends the information to the brain via the optic nerve. Retinal thinning can occur as a result of multiple sclerosis. The said research study , participated in by UT Southwestern along with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as well as researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, was the first to track down retinal thinning over a period of time among a group of patients. The said study involved 299 patients with Ms and who were monitored from 6 months to 4.5 years.

The study found that retinas among patients with MS thinned significantly with time along with the gradual loss of visual sharpness. OCT was the primary means used to measure the retinal thinning over time. The eye exam proved quite reliable and was easy to use and sensitive to changes over time.

Since the retina is easily visible through the eye pupil, it provides researchers with a convenient means to assess nerve damage as compared to other parts of the body. Because of this, researchers believe that retinal measurement might be able to detect the early signs of multiple sclerosis before a person may even develop any symptoms associated with the disease.

According to Dr. Elliot Frohman, professor of neurology and ophthalmology, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Center at UT Southwestern and co-senior author of the study, “An ophthalmologist might someday be able to use OCT to identify retinal thinning during a routine eye exam and consider MS as a prime diagnosis. However, this prospect is a long way off.”

The said study appears in the June issue of Annals of Neurology.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Simple Eye Test Measures Damage from Multiple Sclerosis, Researchers Find.” ScienceDaily 7 June 2010. 8 June 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.comĀ­ /releases/2010/06/100607165742.htm>

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