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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


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Peripapillary Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Thickness in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Comparison of Eyes of Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma, and Preperimetric Glaucoma and Healthy Controls

Przemysław Zabel, Jakub J. Kałużny, Monika Wiłkość-Dębczyńska, Martyna Gębska-Tołoczko, Karolina Suwała, Robert Kucharski, Aleksander Araszkiewicz

(Department of Biology of The Visual System, Collegium Medicum, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Bydgoszcz, Poland)

Med Sci Monit 2019; 25:1001-1008

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.914889

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to assess and compare peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), preperimetric glaucoma (PPG), and healthy controls with the use of Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (SD-OCT).
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Thirty patients with AD, 30 patients with POAG, 30 patients with PPG, and 30 healthy controls were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. Only 1 randomly selected eye of each patient was analyzed. Every subject underwent a thorough ophthalmological examination and OCT of the optic disc. The peripapillary RNFL thickness in each of the 6 sectors and globally was analyzed.
RESULTS: The RNFL was thinnest in patients with POAG. The mean RNFL thickness value was 60.97±12.97 µm and it was significantly lower than in healthy controls (106.30±8.95 µm), patients with PPG (93.20±12.04 µm), and AD patients (95.73±13.52 µm). Mean RNFL thickness in patients with AD was significantly lower when compared to healthy controls, and was higher compared to eyes with POAG, while there were no significant differences compared to patients with PPG.
CONCLUSIONS: Neuronal damage in the central nervous system (CNS) also affects to retinal axons. A major problem is to distinguish the cause for a moderate decrease in the RNFL thickness. This is particularly true for patients with glaucoma who have not been diagnosed with changes in the visual field. It is not possible to distinguish the cause of a mild decrease in the RNFL thickness based on the SD-OCT. This may result in misdiagnosis of glaucoma, unnecessary use of anti-glaucoma eye drops, and a delayed diagnosis of AD.

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