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Changes in retinal nerve fiber layer, ganglion cell complex, and ganglion cell layer thickness in thyroid eye disease: A systematic review

1 Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
2 Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Department of Ophthalmology, Scheie Eye Institute; Department of Ophthalmology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Cesar A Briceno,
Scheie Eye Institute, 51 N. 39th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjo.TJO-D-22-00110

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is characterized by progressive orbital inflammation. In severe cases, it can lead to dysthyroid optic neuropathy (DON), involving death of retinal ganglion cells and permanent vision loss. Imaging with optical coherence tomography (OCT) has enabled noninvasive examination of the structural impact of the disease, including of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL), the ganglion cell layer (GCL), and the inner plexiform layer (IPL). In this study, we systematically review 20 studies (897 patients, 1430 eyes) to evaluate changes in retinal thickness in patients with TED, stratified by severity. Most studies found a decrease in thickness in peripapillary RNFL (pRNFL), non-pRNFL, combined RNFL/GCL/IPL, or combined GCL/IPL when comparing patients with DON to healthy controls or to patients without DON. However, results were equivocal regarding differences between non-DON TED patients and controls. In addition, several studies reported a postoperative decrease in pRNFL thickness after orbital decompression surgery. Future studies examining OCT changes of retinal thickness along with disease progression are needed to assess the potential of OCT in diagnosis and management of patients with TED.

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