Issues in quantifying atrophic macular disease using retinal autofluorescence

Retina. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(6):666-72. doi: 10.1097/01.iae.0000236472.56195.e9.


Purpose: To demonstrate the potential and limits of autofluorescence imaging in identifying and delineating areas of atrophy.

Methods: Fundus photographs and infrared scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO) imaging, SLO macular perimetry, and SLO autofluorescence imaging results were compared for two patients with geographic atrophy (GA) from age-related macular degeneration, one patient with pigmentary alteration of the retina, and two patients with Stargardt disease. The main outcome measure in this case series was the presence of reduced autofluorescence.

Results: Drusen may become undetectable during autofluorescence imaging for some patients, allowing simple identification of areas of GA with areas of reduced autofluorescence. In other patients, drusen themselves have decreased autofluorescence, despite having intact retinal function in the retina overlying them. Some patients may have areas of reduced autofluorescence that persist for many years, without evidence of the development of atrophy. In Stargardt disease, decreased autofluorescence can easily detect and delineate areas of scotoma. Areas with mottled autofluorescence may have overlying function, but the function may not be adequate to support a fixation locus in that area.

Conclusions: Using decreased autofluorescence to delineate areas of atrophy may be helpful in atrophic macular disorders. For GA, correlation with fundus photographs or macular perimetry findings may be necessary to differentiate between drusen and atrophy. For Stargardt disease, the nature of areas of decreased autofluorescence may help explain visual function of those areas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrophy
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Fluorescence*
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / pathology*
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmoscopes