Purpose: To correlate basal laminar deposit (BLamD) and membranous debris, including basal linear deposit (BLinD), with the evolution of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Methods: A clinicopathologic collection of 132 eyes with a continuous layer of BLamD was reviewed. The thickness and type of BLamD and the sites of membranous debris deposition were correlated with the clinical progression of the disease.
Results: Two types of BLamD, termed early and late, were identified based on light microscopic appearance by using the picro-Mallory stain. The progressive accumulation of late type BLamD correlated well with increasing BLamD thickness, advancing RPE degeneration, poorer vision, increasing age, and clinically evident pigment changes. Membranous debris initially accumulated diffusely as BLinD, most eyes with BLinD and early BLamD remaining funduscopically normal. However, membranous debris also formed focal collections as basal mounds internal to the RPE basement membrane and as soft drusen external to the basement membrane. Eyes in which membranous debris remained confined to basal mounds belonged to older patients with poorer vision, whereas patients with soft drusen were younger and had better vision.
Conclusions: The presence of BLinD and early BLamD define threshold AMD, which manifests clinically as a normal fundus. Although late BLamD correlates most closely with clinical pigment abnormalities, it is the quantity and sites of membranous debris accumulation that appear to determine whether the disease develops pigment changes only or follows the alternative pathway of soft drusen formation with its attendant greater risk of choroidal neovascularization (CNV).