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Medical Education

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Epidemiology | Eye Diseases | Musculoskeletal, Neural, and Ocular Physiology | Ophthalmology | Race and Ethnicity | Vision Science


Purpose: To evaluate the effects of age, race, and ethnicity on the optic nerve and peripapillary retina using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) three-dimensional (3D) volume scans in normal subjects.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study performed at a single institution in Boston. All patients received retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) scans and an optic nerve 3D volume scan. The SD-OCT software calculated peripapillary RNFL thickness, retinal thickness (RT), and retinal volume (RV). Custom-designed software calculated neuroretinal rim minimum distance band (MDB) thickness and area.

Results: There were 272 normal subjects, including 175 whites, 40 blacks, 40 Asians, and 17 Hispanics. Rates of age-related decline were 2.3%, 2.0%, 1.7%, 3.3%, and 4.3% per decade for RNFL, RT, RV, MDB neuroretinal rim thickness, and MDB area, respectively. The RNFL was most affected by racial and ethnic variations, with Asians having thicker global, superior, and inferior RNFL, Hispanics having thicker inferior RNFL, and blacks having thinner temporal RNFL, compared to whites. For MDB thickness and area, Asians had smaller nasal values and blacks had smaller temporal values. Peripapillary RT and RV parameters were not influenced by race and ethnicity.

Conclusions: All of the parameters exhibited age-related declines. RNFL, MDB thickness, and MDB area demonstrated racial and ethnic variations, while peripapillary RT and RV did not. Translational

Relevance: This study demonstrates that both normal aging and ethnicity affect several novel 3D OCT parameters used to diagnose and monitor glaucoma (i.e., RT, RV, and MDB), and this should be factored in when making clinical decisions based on these parameters.


age, aging, optic nerve, peripapillary retina, race, spectral-domain OCT, three-dimensional OCT

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Copyright 2018 The Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

DOI of Published Version



Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2018 Nov 27;7(6):12. doi: 10.1167/tvst.7.6.12. eCollection 2018 Nov. Link to article on publisher's site

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Translational vision science and technology

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.