Correlation between spectral-domain optical coherence tomography and fundus autofluorescence at the margins of geographic atrophy

Am J Ophthalmol. 2009 Sep;148(3):439-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2009.04.022. Epub 2009 Jul 9.


Purpose: To study the appearance of margins of geographic atrophy in high-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT) images and to correlate those changes with fundus autofluorescence (FAF) imaging.

Design: Retrospective, observational case study.

Methods: Patients with geographic atrophy secondary to dry age-related macular degeneration were assessed by means of spectral-domain OCT (Spectralis Heidelberg Retinal Angiograph/OCT; Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany; or OTI Inc, Toronto, Canada) as well as autofluorescence imaging (Heidelberg Retinal Angiograph or Spectralis; Heidelberg Engineering). The outer retinal layer alterations were analyzed in the junctional zone between normal retina and atrophic retina and were correlated with corresponding FAF.

Results: Twenty-three eyes of 16 patients between 62 and 96 years of age were examined. There was a significant association between OCT findings and the FAF findings (r = 0.67; P < .0001). Severe alterations of the outer retinal layers at margins on spectral-domain OCT correspond significantly to increased autofluorescence; smooth margins on OCT correspond significantly to normal FAF (kappa, 0.7348; P < .0001).

Conclusions: Spectral-domain OCT provides in vivo insight into the pathogenesis of geographic atrophy and its progression. Visualization of reactive changes in the retinal pigment epithelial cells at the junctional zone and correlation with increased FAF; secondary to increased lipofuscin, together these methods may serve as determinants of progression of geographic atrophy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrophy
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography*
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / complications
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*