Focal functional and microstructural changes of photoreceptors in eyes with acute zonal occult outer retinopathy

Case Rep Ophthalmol. 2011 Sep;2(3):307-13. doi: 10.1159/000332734. Epub 2011 Sep 19.


Purpose: Acute zonal occult outer retinopathy (AZOOR) is characterized by an acute zonal loss of outer retinal function with minimal ophthalmoscopic changes in one or both eyes. We present a patient with AZOOR whose ultrastructural and functional findings were followed for 8 months.

Case: A 22-year-old woman developed an acute central scotoma in her right eye. Her best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) was 0.5 OD and 1.2 OS. The ophthalmoscopic examinations, fluorescein angiography, and full-field electroretinograms (ERGs) were normal in both eyes. The amplitudes of the multifocal ERGs (mfERGs) were attenuated in the area corresponding to the scotoma. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography showed an absence of both the inner and outer segment (IS/OS) line of the photoreceptors and the cone outer segment tip (COST) line between the IS/OS line and the retinal pigment epithelium. These changes were seen in the area corresponding to the scotoma. One month later, the scotoma disappeared and the BCVA improved to 1.2 OD. The mfERGs increased to almost the same amplitude as the fellow eye. The IS/OS line became discernible but the COST line was still absent. The ophthalmological findings of the right macula remained normal during the 11-month follow-up period.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the selective loss of the IS/OS and the COST lines is probably the morphological alterations corresponding with the reduced BCVA and the mfERGs in the areas of the visual field defects in the acute phase of AZOOR. But in the recovery phase, only the abnormality of the COST line is a subclinical sign for the disease. These findings should be important in understanding and evaluating the pathological mechanism in other outer retinal diseases.

Keywords: Acute zonal occult outer retinopathy; Cone outer segment tips; External limiting membrane; IS/OS line; Multifocal electroretinogram; Optical coherence tomography; Perimetry; Photoreceptor inner and outer segment line.

Publication types

  • Case Reports