Purpose: To assess the significance and evolution of parafoveal rings of high-density fundus autofluorescence (AF) in 12 patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
Methods: Twelve patients with autosomal recessive RP or Usher syndrome type 2 were ascertained who had a parafoveal ring of high-density AF and a visual acuity of 20/30 or better at baseline. Photopic and scotopic fine matrix mapping (FMM) were performed to test sensitivity across the macula. AF imaging and FMM were repeated after 4 to 8 years and optical coherence tomography (OCT) performed.
Results: The size of the AF ring reduced over time and disappeared in one subject. Photopic thresholds were normal over the fovea; thresholds were elevated by 0.6 log units over the ring and by 1.2 log units external to the ring at baseline and differed by less than 0.1 log unit at follow-up. Mild photopic losses close to the internal edge of the ring were detected at baseline or follow-up in all. Mean scotopic thresholds over parafoveal areas within the ring were markedly elevated in 8 of 10 at baseline and were severely elevated in 9 of 11 at follow-up. The eccentricity of the inner edge of the AF ring corresponded closely with the lateral extent of the inner segment ellipsoid band in the OCT image.
Conclusions: Ring constriction was largely coincident with progressive centripetal photopic threshold elevation led by worsening of rod photoreceptor function. The rate of constriction differed across patients, and a ring may reach a critical minimum before disappearing, at which stage central visual loss occurs. The structural and functional changes associated with rings of increased autofluorescence confirm that they provide an objective index of macular involvement and may aid the management of RP patients and the monitoring of future treatment efficacy.