Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Simple eye test measures damage from multiple sclerosis

A quick, painless eye measurement shows promise as a way to diagnose multiple sclerosis in its very early stages, and to track the effectiveness of treatments, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center have found in a multicenter study.

"This technique has the potential to provide a powerful and reliable assessment strategy to measure structural changes in the central nervous system, both for diagnostic purposes and in clinical trials to monitor whether potential treatments can prevent deterioration or restore nerve function," said 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, which appears in the June issue of Annals of Neurology.

The technique, called optical coherence tomography (OCT), reliably measures thinning of the retina in people with multiple sclerosis, the researchers found.

"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," Dr. Frohman said. "However, this prospect is a long way off."

The retina, which lines the back of the eye, detects light and sends visual information to the brain via the optic nerve. Retinal thinning can occur as a result of multiple sclerosis, but this study, Dr. Frohman said, is the first to track such thinning over time in a single group of patients. The Neurology study involved 299 patients with MS who were tracked for six months to 4.5 years.

The researchers found that the retinas thinned significantly with time, and patients often concurrently lost visual sharpness. Overall, the study indicated that OCT is reliable, easy to use and sensitive to changes over time. It could also be used with current clinical measures, the researchers said.

Because the retina is easily visible through the pupil, it provides a convenient route for assessing nerve damage, compared with other parts of the body. As a result, retinal measurement might be able to pick up signs of multiple sclerosis before a person develops other symptoms, Dr. Frohman said.

OCT machines already are available. Patients look into a device similar to those that measure vision for corrective lenses. Near-infrared light, which is invisible to the eye, penetrates the retina and provides information on its thickness. The measurement takes a few seconds for each eye.

In addition to the OCT testing, patients in the latest study looked at eye charts so the researchers could test their vision. Control subjects came from the patients' families and clinics' staff.

Future studies are needed to ascertain whether OCT can characterize the effectiveness of treatments, Dr. Frohman said.

Other UT Southwestern researchers in neurology involved in the study were Gina Remington, clinical research coordinator; Amy Conger, neuro-ophthalmic imaging specialist; and Teresa Frohman, clinic research manager.

The research was a joint project with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, also participated.

The study was funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Institutes of Health, DAD's Foundation and the McNeill Foundation.

Visit to learn more about clinical services at UT Southwestern in the neurosciences, including MS diagnosis and treatment. Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern's clinical services in ophthalmology.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at

Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Multiple Sklerose Neurology OCT multiple sclerosis

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>