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Min Chen, Jill Nofziger, Ritobrato Datta, James C. Gee, Jessica Morgan, Geoffrey K. Aguirre; The Influence of Axial Length Upon the Retinal Ganglion Cell Layer of the Human Eye. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(13):9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.9.13.9.
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Variation in retinal thickness with eye size complicates efforts to estimate retinal ganglion cell number from optical coherence tomography (OCT) measures. We examined the relationship among axial length, the thickness and volume of the ganglion cell layer (GCL), and the size of the optic chiasm.
We used OCT to measure GCL thickness over 50 degrees of the horizontal meridian in 50 healthy participants with a wide range of axial lengths. Using a model eye informed by individual biometry, we converted GCL thickness to tissue volume per square degree. We also measured the volume of the optic chiasm for 40 participants using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
There is a positive relationship between GCL tissue volume and axial length. Given prior psychophysical results, we conclude that increased axial length is associated with increased retinal ganglion cell size, decreased cell packing, or both. We characterize how retinal ganglion cell tissue varies systematically in volume and spatial distribution as a function of axial length. This model allows us to remove the effect of axial length from individual difference measures of GCL volume. We find that variation in this adjusted GCL volume correlates well with the size of the optic chiasm.
Our results provide the volume of ganglion cell tissue in the retina, adjusted for the presumed effects of axial length upon ganglion cell size and/or packing. The resulting volume measure accounts for individual differences in the size of the optic chiasm, supporting its use to characterize the post-retinal visual pathway.
Variations in ametropia can confound clinical measures of retinal features. We present a framework within which the thickness and volume of retinal structures can be measured and corrected for the effects of axial length.
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