BackgroundIdiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a serious condition that is frequently associated with irreversibly vision loss, having a higher incidence among obese women. Our aims were to screen subclinical IIH in obese patients scheduled to bariatric surgery using peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness and to evaluate if the findings demand the possible need of a preoperative evaluation in this population.MethodsThis study included 111 eyes from 36 obese patients (86% female, body mass index > 35 kg/m2) scheduled to bariatric surgery and 20 non-obese (body mass index < 25 kg/m2) age-matched controls. We measured sectorial and mean RNFL thickness in a 3.5-mm-diameter circular scan centered on the optic nerve head, using optical coherence tomography (Heidelberg Spectralis SD-OCT) in all participants. Multivariate linear regression was used for adjustments.ResultsNo patient had subclinical IIH corresponding to increased RNFL thickness. However, in obese individuals, global peripapillary RNFL was thinner than in controls (104 ± 6 μm versus 99 ± 12 μm, p = 0.005). Overall, RNFL thickness was superior in the control group for all sectors. The differences reached significance for the nasal, temporal, superior temporal, and inferior temporal sectors. These differences remained even after adjusting for possible confounders (hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, age, sleep apnea syndrome, and sex).ConclusionsRoutine screening asymptomatic obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery for IIH using RNFL thickness was not clinically relevant in our study. However, we found that severe obesity is associated with neurodegeneration independently of the other components of the metabolic syndrome, what may justify future investigation on the need of monitoring these patients.