Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert

Reader 2

Bijal Mehta

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2013 Celina Hayashi


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological autoimmune disease characterized by demyelination of central nervous system tissue and one way this is presented is in the demyelination of the retinal nerve, causing vision disturbance and loss (Munger et al., 2006). The thinning of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) can be measured and visualized using a noninvasive technique called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which is also used to measure relative MS severity (Petzold et al., 2010). One environmental factor that has been found to have a relationship with MS is vitamin D; research findings suggest that sufficient levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing MS, decrease MS severity, and may slow its progression (Ascherio et al., 2010; Munger et al., 2006; Muris et al., 2013). The mechanism by which vitamin D affects certain symptoms requires deeper investigation.

This research examines the relationship between serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and retinal nerve fiber layer thicknesses in patients with MS. It was hypothesized that patients with sufficient vitamin D levels would have less demyelination of the retinal nerve caused by MS, and therefore would have a thicker RNFL in both eyes based on the proposed immunomodulatory role of vitamin D found in other studies. Blood samples were assayed to measure the concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and OCT was used to measure RNFL thicknesses in patients with MS at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Neurology Clinic. Patients with sufficient levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had a greater mean global RNFL thickness in both eyes than in patients with insufficient levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D; however the differences were not significant. Further research is necessary in order to determine whether or not there is a correlation between vitamin D and RNFL thickness and what role vitamin D plays in MS presentation.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.