We determined decreases in choroidal thickness and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness in all quadrants. Our findings show that the choroid and RNFL are affected before the emergence of ocular symptoms in malnourished children.
We aimed to determine whether the RNFL, a component of the neuronal structure, and the choroid, supplying the retina, are affected in children with malnutrition using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography.
One hundred twenty-six malnourished patients without ocular symptoms, aged between 5 and 10 years, and 116 healthy children were included in the study. Age, sex, weight-for-age (WFA) z
score, height-for-age z
score, body mass index–for–age z
score, and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography data were recorded.
Average RNFL thickness was 96.5 μm (82.0 to 128.0 μm) in the malnutrition group and 111.0 μm (95.0 to 128.0 μm) in the control group (P
< .001). Retinal nerve fiber layer thickness was statistically significantly lower in all quadrants in malnourished patients compared with the control group. Median choroidal thickness in the foveal center was 304.0 μm (250.0 to 375.0 μm) in the malnutrition group and 345.0 μm (280.0 to 403.0 μm) in the control group (P
< .001). Choroidal thickness in all quadrants was also statistically significantly lower in malnourished patients. Positive correlation was determined between average RNFL thicknesses and WFA z
score. Average RNFL thickness decreased as WFA z
score decreased (r
= 0.730 and P
< .001). Positive correlation was also observed between choroidal thickness in the foveal center and WFA z
score. Foveal center choroidal thickness decreased in line with WFA z
= 0.786 and P
Our results show that the retinal nerve fiber layer and choroidal thickness decreased in malnourished children without clinically reported ocular symptoms. A decreased retinal nerve fiber layer and choroidal thickness may be an important clue to the prevention of retinal pathologies that may develop at later ages if the malnutrition is not addressed.