Progression of retinal pigment epithelial atrophy in stargardt disease

Am J Ophthalmol. 2012 Jul;154(1):146-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2012.01.019. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Purpose: To evaluate retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) atrophy in patients with Stargardt disease using autofluorescence imaging (AF).

Design: Retrospective observational case series.

Methods: Demographics, best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), AF images, and electrophysiology responses (group 1, macular dysfunction; group 2, macula + cone dysfunction; group 3, macula + cone-rod dysfunction) were evaluated at presentation and follow-up in a group of 12 patients (24 eyes) with Stargardt disease. The existence, development, and rate of enlargement of areas of RPE atrophy over time were evaluated using AF imaging. A linear regression model was used to investigate the effects of AF and electrophysiology on rate of atrophy enlargement and BCVA, adjusting for age of onset and duration of disease.

Results: Eight male and 4 female patients (median age 42 years; range 24-69 years) were followed for a median of 41.5 months (range 13-66 months). All 12 patients had reduced AF compatible with RPE atrophy at presentation and in all patients the atrophy enlarged during follow-up. The mean rate of atrophy enlargement for all patients was 1.58 mm(2)/y (SD 1.25 mm(2)/y; range 0.13-5.27 mm(2)/y). Only the pattern of functional loss present as detected by electrophysiology was statistically significantly associated with the rate of atrophy enlargement when correcting for other variables (P < .001), with patients in group 3 (macula + cone-rod dysfunction) having the fastest rate of atrophy enlargement (1.97 mm(2)/y, SD 0.70 mm(2)/y) (group 1 [macula] 1.09 mm(2)/y, SD 0.53 mm(2)/y; group 2 [macula + cone] 1.89 mm(2)/y, SD 2.27 mm(2)/y).

Conclusion: Variable rates of atrophy enlargement were observed in patients with Stargardt disease. The pattern of functional loss detected on electrophysiology was strongly associated with the rate of atrophy enlargement over time, thus serving as the best prognostic indicator for patients with this inherited retinal disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrophy
  • Disease Progression
  • Electroretinography
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / congenital
  • Macular Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stargardt Disease
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Young Adult