Effect of optic nerve head drusen on nerve fiber layer thickness

Shiyoung Roh, Robert J. Noecker, Joel S. Schuman, Thomas R. Hedges, John J. Weiter, Cynthia Mattox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of optic nerve head drusen (ONHD) on nerve fiber layer (NFL) thickness by visual field testing, red-free photography of NFL, and optical coherence tomography (OCT). Design: The study design was a prospective clinical study. Participants: Twenty-three eyes of 15 consecutive patients with ONHD and 27 eyes of 27 age- matched control subjects participated. Intervention: Ophthalmologic examination, color and red-free photography, automated Humphrey visual field testing, and OCT were performed. Each of the drusen study eyes were graded on a scale of 0 to III based on the amount of visible ONHD. Grade 0 represented the absence of clinically visible ONHD, and grade III represented an optic nerve head with abundant drusen. Main Outcome Measures: Findings from clinical evaluation and color optic nerve head photographs and NFL evaluation by red-free photography, visual fields, and OCT were measured. Results: The number of study eyes with visual field defects increased with the higher grade drusen discs, corresponding both with progressively thinner NFL measurements by OCT and NFL loss shown by NFL photography. The NFL evaluation showed NFL thinning by red-free photography in 12 (71%) of 17 eyes with visible druser (grades I-III discs) and visual field defects in 9 (53%) of 17 eyes in this group. By OCT measurements, the superior and inferior NFLs were significantly thinner in the eyes with visible ONHD compared with those of control eyes in the superior quadrant (P < 0.001) and inferior quadrant (P = 0.004). Compared with grade 0 discs, grades I through III discs showed statistically significant thinning of the NFL superiorly (P < 0.001). No statistical significant thinning of the NFL was seen in grade 0 discs compared with those of control subjects. Conclusions: Optical coherence tomography is able to detect NFL thinning in eyes with ONHD and appears to be a sensitive and early indicator of NFL thinning. Increased numbers of clinically visible ONHD correlated with NFL thinning shown by OCT measurements and both visual field defects and NFL loss seen by red-free photography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-885
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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