Thinner Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer in Very Preterm Versus Term Infants and Relationship to Brain Anatomy and Neurodevelopment

Adam L. Rothman, Monica B. Sevilla, Shwetha Mangalesh, Kathryn E. Gustafson, Laura Edwards, C. Michael Cotten, Joshua S. Shimony, Carolyn E. Pizoli, Mays A. El-Dairi, Sharon F. Freedman, Cynthia A. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose To assess retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness at term-equivalent age in very preterm (<32 weeks gestational age) vs term-born infant cohorts, and compare very preterm infant RNFL thickness with brain anatomy and neurodevelopment. Design Cohort study. Methods RNFL was semi-automatically segmented (1 eye per infant) in 57 very preterm and 50 term infants with adequate images from bedside portable, handheld spectral-domain optical coherence tomography imaging at 37-42 weeks postmenstrual age. Mean RNFL thickness was calculated for the papillomacular bundle (-15 degrees to +15 degrees) and temporal quadrant (-45 degrees to +45 degrees) relative to the fovea-optic nerve axis. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans clinically obtained in 26 very preterm infants were scored for global structural abnormalities by an expert masked to data except for age. Cognitive, language, and motor skills were assessed in 33 of the very preterm infants at 18-24 months corrected age. Results RNFL was thinner for very preterm vs term infants at the papillomacular bundle ([mean ± standard deviation] 61 ± 17 vs 72 ± 13 μm, P <.001) and temporal quadrant (72 ± 21 vs 82 ± 16 μm, P =.005). In very preterm infants, thinner papillomacular bundle RNFL correlated with higher global brain MRI lesion burden index (R2 = 0.35, P =.001) and lower cognitive (R2 = 0.18, P =.01) and motor (R2 = 0.17, P =.02) scores. Relationships were similar for temporal quadrant. Conclusions Thinner RNFL in very preterm infants relative to term-born infants may relate to brain structure and neurodevelopment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1296-1308.e2
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Thinner Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer in Very Preterm Versus Term Infants and Relationship to Brain Anatomy and Neurodevelopment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this