Scientists in the US have discovered that a simple eye test may be able to provide vital monitoring of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
A quick and simple Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scan can measure the thickness of the retina at the back of the eye and researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found evidence to suggest correlation between the thinning of the retina and development of MS.
Brain scans are currently used to track MS progress as they show lesions in the brain, but scientists are unsure that these reflect ongoing damage. It is thought that cells in the retina display the earliest signs of MS damage because, unlike brain cells, they are not covered in a protective myelin coat.
A trial of 164 patients found that those with more active MS displayed greater thinning of the retina. The findings have been published in the current issue of the Neurology journal.
Author of the study, Dr Peter Calebresi, said: "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."
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