Attenuation Coefficients From SD-OCT Data: Structural Information Beyond Morphology on RNFL Integrity in Glaucoma

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The purpose of this study is to explore the attenuation coefficient (AC) of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) in spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) images, in healthy eyes and eyes affected by glaucoma. To assess the relation between RNLF AC, disease severity, RNFL thickness, visual field sensitivity threshold, spatial location and age.

Patients and Methods:

We analyzed peripapillary circle scans of a clinical OCT device (Spectralis OCT, Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany) in 102 glaucoma patients and 90 healthy controls. The images were fully automatically converted into depth-resolved AC images. Next, the median AC within the RNFL was calculated based on the Spectralis segmentation. We compared the RNFL AC between healthy, mild, moderate and advanced glaucomatous eyes and assessed the correlation with patient characteristics such as age and visual field sensitivity threshold (HFA, Carl Zeiss Meditec, Dublin, CA) in a generalized estimating equations (GEE) model. Finally, we explored the ability to discriminate between glaucomatous and healthy eyes by RNFL AC.


Median RNFL AC decreased with increasing disease severity up to moderate glaucoma (P<0.001) in all 4 sectors around the optic nerve head. The largest relative decrease occurred in the nasal sector. The RNFL AC (AUC, 0.834±0.028) effectively discriminated healthy from glaucomatous eyes, although RNFL thickness (AUC, 0.975±0.013) performed even better (P<0.001). Prediction of visual field sensitivity improved significantly when RNFL thickness was augmented with RNFL AC as covariates (P<0.001).


This study demonstrated that RNFL AC provides complementary information on the RNFL’s health compared with RNFL thickness measurements alone.

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