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Thinner retinal nerve fibre layer in young adults with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders


Background/Aims Ophthalmological abnormalities such as ptosis, strabismus, refractive errors and optic nerve hypoplasia have been reported in foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether retinal thickness, retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) and optic disc area (ODA) differ between individuals with FASD and healthy controls.

Methods Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in terms of logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR), refraction, and fundus variables measured by optical coherence tomography were obtained from 26 young adults with FASD (12 women, median age 23 years) and 27 controls (18 women, median age 25 years).

Results The total thickness of the peripapillary RNFL was significantly lower in the FASD group than in controls; median (range) in the right/left eye was 96.5 (60–109)/96 (59–107) µm in the FASD group and 105 (95–117)/103 (91–120) µm among controls (p=0.001 and p=0.0001). Macular RNFL and retinal thickness measurements from the FASD group were also lower in most of the nine ETDRS areas, except for the central parts. Median (range) BCVA in the best eye was 0.00 (−0.1–0.3) logMAR in the FASD group and 0.00 (−0.2–0.0) logMAR in controls (p=0.001). No significant differences between the groups were found regarding ODA or refraction.

Conclusion Significant differences in peripapillary and macular RNFL, retinal thickness and BCVA were found in this group of young adults with FASD compared with healthy controls. However, there were no differences in the size of the optic disc.

  • Embryology and development
  • Imaging
  • Optic Nerve
  • Vision
  • Child health (paediatrics)

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