Novel Technique for Quantifying Retinal Nerve Fiber Bundle Abnormality in the Temporal Raphe

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Abstract

SIGNIFICANCE

Glaucomatous nasal visual field abnormalities correspond to damage in the temporal raphe—where individual nerve bundles can be visualized. The ability to quantify structural abnormality in the raphe, with a clinically applicable protocol, sets the stage for investigating the raphe as a potential site for assessing early glaucoma.

PURPOSE

To develop a clinically applicable imaging and analysis technique for identifying retinal nerve fiber bundle abnormalities in the temporal raphe.

METHODS

Spectralis optical coherence tomography scans customized for the temporal raphe were gathered from 30 younger controls, 30 older controls, and 29 patients with glaucoma. An analysis technique was developed based on the reflectance of the nerve fiber bundles. The technique was first developed in the younger controls, and then applied to the older controls to generate normative data for quantifying nerve fiber bundle reflectance abnormalities in the patients with glaucoma. Matrix perimetric data were gathered in the patients with glaucoma to evaluate the reflectance technique’s findings. Reflectance abnormality in the patients was defined when the fraction of enface area showing reflectance abnormality was greater than the 95th percentile estimated from controls. Spearman’s rho was used to quantify the relation between the total deviation at the perimetric testing locations and the fraction of corresponding enface area showing reflectance abnormality.

RESULTS

Twenty-five of the 29 patients had reflectance abnormalities. Eight of these had mild to no perimetric mean deviation abnormality. Similar results were found when perimetric total deviations were compared to reflectance abnormalities in the corresponding enface locations. Spearman’s rho comparing the total deviations to reflectance abnormalities found rs(174) = −0.72, P < .001.

CONCLUSIONS

The technique typically identified reflectance abnormality when perimetric abnormality was present. It also identified reflectance abnormalities even when perimetric abnormality was mild or absent. The findings support the potential of raphe imaging in detecting early glaucomatous damage.

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