Open Access Research article

Retinal nerve fibre layer, ganglion cell layer and choroid thinning in migraine with aura

Metin Ekinci1*, Erdinç Ceylan2, Halil Hüseyin Çağatay1, Sadullah Keleş3, Nergiz Hüseyinoğlu4, Burak Tanyıldız5, Özgür Çakıcı6 and Baki Kartal2

Author Affiliations

1 Ophthalmology, Univesity of Kafkas, Kars 36100, Turkey

2 Ophthalmology, Erzurum Training and Research Hospital Ophthalmology Clinic, Erzurum, Turkey

3 Ophthalmology, University of Atatürk, Erzurum, Turkey

4 Neurology, University Of Kafkas, Kars 36100, Turkey

5 Department of Ophthalmology, Istanbul University, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, İstanbul, Turkey

6 Ophthalmology, University of Muğla Sıtkı Koçman, Muğla, Turkey

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BMC Ophthalmology 2014, 14:75  doi:10.1186/1471-2415-14-75

Published: 31 May 2014



The aim of this study was to investigate the thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL), the ganglion cell layer (GCL), and choroid thickness (CT) in patients who have migraines, with and without aura, using spectral optical coherence tomography (OCT).


Forty-five patients who had migraines without aura (Group 1), 45 patients who had migraines with aura (Group 2), and 30 healthy participants (control group) were included in the study. Spectral OCT was used to measure the RNFL, GCL and CT values for all patients.


The mean age of Group 1, Group 2, and the control group was 34.6 ± 4.3, 32.8 ± 4.9, and 31.8 ± 4.6 years, respectively. The mean attack frequency was 3.6/month in Group 1 and 3.7/month in Group 2. The mean age among the groups (p = 0.27) and number of attacks in migraine patients (p = 0.73) were not significantly different. There was significant thinning in the RNFL and GCL in Group 2 (p < 0.05, p < 0.001 respectively), while there were no significant differences in RNFL and GCL measurements between Group 1 and the control group (p > 0.05). All groups were significantly different from one another with respect to CT, with the most thinning observed in Group 2 (p < 0.001). When all migraine patients (without grouping) were compared with the control group, there were significant differences on all parameters: RNFL thickness, GCC thickness and CT (p < 0.05).


RNFL and GCL were significantly thinner in the migraine patients with aura as compared with both the migraine patients without aura and the control subjects. In migraine, both with aura and without aura, patients’ choroid thinning should be considered when evaluating ophthalmological findings.

Migraine with aura; Retinal nerve fiber layer thickness; Ganglion cell layer thickness; Choroid thickness; Optical coherence tomography