Yunhai Tu, Haochen Jin, Mingna Xu, Weijie Liu, Xiaozhou Hu, Mengting Wang, Jie Ye, Zihui Liu, Mengyuan Gao, Fang Hou, Zhong-Lin Lu, and Wencan Wu


Background: To assess the accuracy of contrast sensitivity function (CSF) in detecting dysthyroid optic neuropathy (DON) at an early stage in thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) patients and to examine potential factors that may be linked to early visual impairments in these individuals.

Methods: A total of 81 TAO patients (50 non-DON and 31 DON), and 24 control subjects participated in the study. CSF was measured with the quick CSF (qCSF) method. Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) images of the ganglion cell complex layer (GCCL), superficial and deep retinal capillary plexuses (SRCP and DRCP) in a 3 mm diameter area around the macula were evaluated.

Results: Compared with the controls, the area under the log contrast sensitivity function (AULCSF) and SRCP density were significantly reduced in non-DON and DON patients (all P < 0.05). The GCCL thickness of the DON patients was thinner than that of the controls and non-DON patients (all P < 0.05). The AULCSF was significantly correlated with spherical equivalent refractive error, muscle index, SRCP density and GCCL thickness in TAO patients, respectively (all P < 0.05). However, stepwise multi-regression analysis showed that the AULCSF was only significantly correlated with SRCP density (P < 0.001). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that the AULCSF produced the most accurate discrimination between non-DON and DON patients from the controls (AUC = 0.831, 0.987, respectively; all P < 0.001).

Conclusions: CSF change in the early stage of DON is related to SRCP density. It can be an early indicator of visual impairments associated with DON in TAO patients.