Imaging of the optic disc and retinal nerve fiber layer: the effects of age, optic disc area, refractive error, and gender

J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis. 2002 Jan;19(1):197-207. doi: 10.1364/josaa.19.000197.


We cross-sectionally examined the relationship between age, optic disc area, refraction, and gender and optic disc topography and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) measurements, using optical imaging techniques. One eye from each of 155 Caucasian subjects (age range 23.0-80.8 y) without ocular pathology was included. Measurements were obtained by using the Heidelberg Retina Tomography (HRT), the GDx Nerve Fiber Analyzer, and the Optical Coherence Tomograph (OCT). The effects of age were small (R2 < 17%) and were limited to specific HRT, GDx, and OCT parameters. Disc area was significantly associated with most HRT parameters and isolated GDx and OCT parameters. Refraction and gender were not significantly associated with any optic disc or RNFL parameters. Although effects of age on the optic disc and RNFL are small, they should be considered in monitoring ocular disease. Optic disc area should be considered when cross-sectionally evaluating disc topography and, to a lesser extent, RNFL thickness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure*
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Optic Disk / anatomy & histology*
  • Optic Disk / pathology
  • Reference Values
  • Refractive Errors / pathology
  • Retina / anatomy & histology*
  • Retina / pathology
  • Sex Characteristics