Purpose: To describe morphologic variations in outer retinal layers in eyes with atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD) using high-resolution, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).
Methods: SD-OCT scans were obtained with a combined confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope (cSLO) and SD-OCT for simultaneous tomographic and topographic in vivo imaging. A total of 81 eyes of 56 patients (mean age, 77.8 +/- 7.4 years) with geographic atrophy (GA) were examined. Morphologic alterations were analyzed and classified in the perilesional zone, at the junction between GA and nonatrophic retina, and in the atrophic area itself.
Results: In the perilesional zone, distinct morphologic alterations included elevations of the outer retinal layers, thickening, and spikes of the outer hyperreflective band as well as clumps at different neurosensory retinal levels. At the junction, highly variable transitions of the outer retinal layers were present with different degrees of loss of the normal hyperreflective bands. Within the actual GA, hyperreflective clumps at different retinal levels, segmented plaques of the outer band and elevations with variable reflectivity were visualized.
Conclusions: SD-OCT imaging in eyes with GA revealed a wide spectrum of morphologic alterations, both in the surrounding retinal tissue and in the atrophic area. These alterations may reflect different disease stages or, alternatively, heterogeneity on a cellular and molecular level. Longitudinal studies using in vivo SD-OCT imaging may allow evaluation of the relevance of these phenotypic changes as potential predictive markers for the progression of disease (i.e., enlargement rates of GA over time) and may be used for monitoring of future therapeutic interventions.