New eye scan found helpful in diagnosis multiple sclerosis patients
Thickness of eye tissue offers glue on progression of disease
A simple, non-invasive eye test could offer a way to measure how fast multiple sclerosis is progressing in a patient. The scan, known as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), takes just a few minutes per eye and can be performed at a GPs surgery.
Researchers from John Hopkins University performed scans on 164 M.S. patients, measuring the thickness of the lining at the back of the eye. It was determined that patients with thinning of the retina had both earlier and more active forms of the disease.
Fifty-nine of the patients showed no symptoms. All patients received exams for six months for around 21 months. They also gave them MRI brain scans once a year.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.
Around eight out of 10 people with M.S. have a type known as relapsing remitting. People will have periods where symptoms are mild or disappear altogether followed by flare-ups with this version of the disease. After around 10 years, half of patients will develop secondary progressive disease where symptoms get worse, with little remission.
Monitoring the disease is highly difficult because its course can be unpredictable. Scientists believe OCT could provide a good way to do this.
"As more therapies are developed to slow the progression of MS, testing retinal thinning in the eyes may be helpful in evaluating how effective those therapies are," study author Dr Peter Calabresi says.
The study found that people with MS relapses had 42 percent faster thinning than people with MS who had no relapses.
In addition, the MRI scans revealed people with MS who had signs of active inflammation, such as gadolinium-enhancing lesions experienced 54 percent faster thinning.
Patients, in the meantime whose level of disability worsened during the study experienced 37 percent more thinning than those who had no changes in their level of disability.
The study was supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Eye Institute and Braxton Debbie Angela Dillon and Skip Donor Advisor Fund.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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