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Migraines found to affect deep ocular structures

11/07/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
A study has found that migraine headaches significantly affect deep ocular structures, including the ganglion cell layer, retinal nerve fibre layer and choroid.

Researchers from the Ain Shams University of Cairo, Egypt used spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and enhanced depth imaging techniques (EDT) to investigate how migraines affect the retina and choroid.

In particular, the researchers wanted to know whether the different types of migraine – with aura (MwA) and without aura (MwoA) – and their duration and severity, correlated with changes in cerebral blood flow thought to affect the deep ocular structures.

“We found that MwA and MwoA share the same pathological effect on RNFL, GCL [ganglion cell layer] and choroid, due to vascular spasm that occurs not only in MwA but also in MwoA,” the research authors, Drs Mona K Abdellatif and Mohamed Mostafa Fouad, wrote in the European Journal of Ophthalmology.

Ninety patients diagnosed with migraine according to the criteria of the Headache International Society were divided into two equal groups, which were split according to the presence or absence of aura. These groups were compared to a third group of 40 healthy controls, while the disease severity and duration were assessed using the Migraine Disability Assessment questionnaire.

According to medical news site Healio, significant thinning was reported in all quadrants of the RNFL in patients with both types of migraine, while the superior and inferior ganglion cell layer (GCL) were also significantly thinner as compared with controls. The most vascular structure of the eye, the choroid, was also affected, with significant thinning in all quadrants.

The severity and the duration of the disease, which ranged between 8–20 years in the study subjects, had an equally significant impact on RNFL and GCL thickness, while the duration of the disease was found to have a stronger effect on choroidal thickness.

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