Macular degeneration (MD) embodies a collection of disorders causing a progressive loss of central vision. Cross-sectional MRI studies have revealed structural changes in the grey and white matter in the posterior visual pathway in MD but there remains a need to understand how such changes progress over time. To that end we assessed the posterior pathway, characterising the visual cortex and optic radiations over a ~ 2-year period in MD patients and controls. We performed cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of the former. Reduced cortical thickness and white matter integrity were observed in patients compared to controls, replicating previous findings. While faster, neither the rate of thinning in visual cortex nor the reduction in white matter integrity during the ~ 2-year period reached significance. We also measured cortical myelin density; cross-sectional data showed this was higher in patients than controls, likely as a result of greater thinning of non-myelinated tissue in patients. However, we also found evidence of a greater rate of loss of myelin density in the occipital pole in the patient group indicating that the posterior visual pathway is at risk in established MD. Taken together, our results revealed a broad decline in grey and white matter in the posterior visual pathway in bilateral MD; cortical thickness and fractional anisotropy show hints of an accelerated rate of loss also, with larger effects emerging in the occipital pole.
|Number of pages||14|
|Early online date||27 Mar 2023|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2023|