Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis- simple eye test can diagnose MS
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis can now be done with a simple eye test medical experts say in the journal Neurology.Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a scan that measures the thickness of the lining at the back of the eye – the retina.
It takes a few minutes per eye and can be performed in a doctor’s surgery.
In a trial involving 164 people with MS, those with thinning of their retina had earlier and more active MS.
The team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say larger trials with a long follow up are needed to judge how useful the test might be in everyday practice.
The latest study tracked the patients’ disease progression over a two year period
Multiple sclerosis is an illness that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. In MS, the protective sheath or layer around nerves, called myelin, comes under attack which, in turn, leaves the nerves open to damage.
There are different types of MS – most people with the condition have the relapsing remitting type where the symptoms come and go over days, weeks or months.
Usually after a decade or so, half of patients with this type of MS will develop secondary progressive disease where the symptoms get gradually worse and there are no or very few periods of remission.
There is currently no cure but treatments can help slow disease progression.
It can be difficult for doctors to monitor MS because it has a varied course and can be unpredictable.
Unlike nerve cells in the rest of the brain which are covered with protective myelin, the nerve cells in the retina are bare with no myelin coat.
Experts suspect that this means the nerves here will show the earliest signs of MS damage.
The study at Johns Hopkins found that people with MS relapses had much faster thinning of their retina than people with MS who had no relapses. So too did those whose level of disability worsened.
Similarly, people with MS who had inflammatory lesions that were visible on brain scans also had faster retinal thinning than those without visible brain lesions.