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Ali S. Raza, Donald C. Hood; Evaluation of the Structure–Function Relationship in Glaucoma Using a Novel Method for Estimating the Number of Retinal Ganglion Cells in the Human Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(9):5548-5556. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-16366.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We developed a simple method for estimating the number of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in the human retina using optical coherence tomography (OCT), compared it to a previous approach, and demonstrated its potential for furthering our understanding of the structure–function relationship in glaucoma.
Swept-source (ss) OCT data and 10-2 visual fields (VFs) were obtained from 43 eyes of 36 healthy controls, and 50 eyes of 50 glaucoma patients and suspects. Using estimates of RGC density from the literature and relatively few assumptions, estimates of the number of RGCs in the macula were obtained based on ssOCT-derived RGC layer thickness measurements.
The RGC estimates were in general agreement with previously published values derived from histology, whereas a prior method based on VF sensitivity did not agree as well with histological data and had significantly higher (P = 0.001) and more variable (P < 0.001) RGC estimates than the new method based on ssOCT. However, the RGC estimates of the new approach were not zero for extreme VF losses, suggesting that a residual, non-RGC contribution needs to be added. Finally, the new ssOCT-derived RGC estimates were significantly (P < 0.001 to P = 0.018) related to VF sensitivity (Spearman's ρ = 0.26–0.47), and, in contrast to claims made in prior studies, statistically significant RGC loss did not occur more often than statistically significant visual loss.
The novel method for estimating RGCs yields values that are closer to histological estimates than prior methods, while relying on considerably fewer assumptions. Although the value added for clinical applications is yet to be determined, this approach is useful for assessing the structure–function relationship in glaucoma.
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