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Multiple Sclerosis International
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 148394, 9 pages
Review Article

Evaluating the Use of Optical Coherence Tomography in Optic Neuritis

Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Surgery, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 2T9

Received 13 August 2010; Accepted 4 December 2010

Academic Editor: Axel Petzold

Copyright © 2011 Fiona Costello. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Optic neuritis (ON) is an inflammatory optic nerve injury, which is strongly associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). Axonal damage in the optic nerve manifests as retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) deficits, which can be readily quantified with optical coherence tomography (OCT). The RNFL represents the most proximal region of the afferent visual pathway; and, as such, is a unique region of the central nervous system (CNS) because it lacks myelin. Changes in retinal integrity can be correlated with reliable and quantifiable visual outcomes to provide a structural-functional paradigm of CNS injury. Because the eye provides a unique “view” into the effects of CNS inflammation, the ON “system model” may provide greater understanding about disease mechanisms, which underpin disability in MS. This review addresses the applications of OCT in study of ON patients, with specific reference to the published reports to date. The future role of OCT is discussed, both in terms of the potential gains and certain challenges associated with this evolving technology.