Vasospasm represents an early event in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Ocular vasospasm may induce optic nerve head (ONH) damage and has been involved in the pathogenesis of glaucoma, especially normal-tension glaucoma (NTG). We aimed to investigate the presence of structural abnormalities associated with NTG using swept-source optical coherence tomography (SS-OCT) and to correlate the OCT parameters with clinical, capillaroscopy and digital blood flow measures in patients with SSc.
In this cross-sectional study, 40 patients with SSc and 23 age-matched controls were included. The following parameters were measured using SS-OCT: mean and sectoral retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness, macular ganglion cell layer complex (GCC) thickness and ONH morphology. Nailfold capillaroscopy (NFC) and digital blood flow measurements using laser Doppler imaging (LDI) were performed in all subjects.
Patients with SSc showed a thinner temporal RNFL than the controls (69.23 ± 11.74 versus 83.35 ± 20.19 µm, p=0.001). The other parameters were similar between the two groups. In SSc patients, there was an inverse correlation between the disease duration and the average, superior and inferior RNFL thickness and the GCC thickness and between Raynaud’s phenomenon duration and the average RNFL and GCC thickness (p<0.05). NFC and LDI measurements did not show correlations with OCT parameters.
A thinner temporal RNFL and the correlation between Raynaud’s phenomenon and disease duration and structural abnormalities on OCT suggest the presence of early ganglion cell damage in patients with SSc. Although mild, these findings indicate the need to monitor ocular abnormalities in SSc.