Future Medicine, Neurodegenerative Disease Management, 2(4), p. 165-176
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disorder characterized by inflammation and neuroaxonal degeneration. The latter is held responsible for the irreversible disability in patients with MS. The eye is a unique window into the brain. With the advent of optical coherence tomography, accurate quantification of retinal layer thickness has become feasible. Neuroaxonal degeneration affecting the retinal layers is structurally and functionally related to pathology in the visual pathways, which is most severe following MS optic neuritis. This is relevant to recognize because MS optic neuritis may mask the subtle thinning of retinal layers associated with global CNS atrophy, which is also related to more global loss of neurological function. Taken together, optical coherence tomography stands at the brink of becoming a validated imaging biomarker for monitoring neurodegeneration in MS and to provide end points for clinical trials.