Longitudinal changes in the macula and optic nerve in familial dysautonomia

Jonathan Kfir, Mengfei Wu, Mengling Liu, Leela Raju, Joel S. Schuman, Hiroshi Ishikawa, Isabel M. Vanegas, Carlos E. Mendoza-Santiesteban, Jose Alberto Palma, Lucy Norcliffe-Kaufmann, Barr Morgenstein, Horacio Kaufmann, Gadi Wollstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Familial Dysautonomia (FD) disease, lacks a useful biomarker for clinical monitoring. In this longitudinal study we characterized the structural changes in the macula, peripapillary and the optic nerve head (ONH) regions in subjects with FD. Methods: Data was consecutively collected from subjects attending the FD clinic between 2012 and 2019. All subjects were imaged with spectral-domain Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). Global and sectoral measurements of mean retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and macular ganglion cell and inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) thickness, and ONH parameters of rim area, average cup-to-disc (C:D) ratio, and cup volume were used for the analysis. The best fit models (linear, quadratic and broken stick linear model) were used to describe the longitudinal change in each of the parameters. Results: 91 subjects (149 eyes) with FD of ages 5–56 years were included in the analysis. The rate of change for average RNFL and average GCIPL thicknesses were significant before reaching a plateau at the age of 26.2 for RNFL and 24.8 for GCIPL (− 0.861 µm/year (95% CI − 1.026, − 0.693) and − 0.553 µm/year (95% CI − 0.645, − 0.461), respectively). Significant linear rate of progression was noted for all ONH parameters, except for a subset of subjects (24%), with no cupping that did not show progression in any of the ONH parameters. Conclusions: The rapidly declining RNFL and GCIPL can explain the progressive visual impairment previously reported in these subjects. Among all structural parameters, ONH parameters might be most suitable for longitudinal follow-up, in eyes with a measurable cup.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1402-1409
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Familial dysautonomia
  • Hereditary optic neuropathy
  • Optical coherance tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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