Analysis of choroidal morphologic features and vasculature in healthy eyes using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography

Ophthalmology. 2013 Sep;120(9):1901-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.01.066. Epub 2013 May 9.


Objective: To analyze the morphologic features and vasculature of the choroid in healthy eyes using spectral-domain (SD) optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Design: Cross-sectional retrospective review.

Participants: Forty-two healthy subjects (42 eyes) with no ocular disease who underwent high-definition scanning with Cirrus high-definition OCT (Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc., Dublin, CA) at the New England Eye Center, Boston, Massachusetts, between November 2009 and September 2010.

Methods: The SD OCT images were evaluated for morphologic features of the choroid, including the shape of the choroid-scleral border, location of the thickest point of choroid, and regions of focal choroidal thinning. Total choroidal thickness and large choroidal vessel layer thickness were measured by 2 independent observers experienced in analyzing OCT images using the Cirrus linear measurement tool at the fovea, 750 μm nasal and temporal to the fovea. Custom software was used to calculate the ratio of choroidal stroma to the choroidal vessel lumen.

Main outcome measures: Qualitative assessment of the choroidal morphologic features, quantitative analysis of choroidal vasculature, and use of novel automated software to determine the ratio of choroidal stromal area to the area of choroidal vessel lumen.

Results: The 42 subjects had a mean age of 51.6 years. All subjects (100%) had a so-called bowl or convex shape to the choroid-sclera junction, and the thickest point of the choroid was under the fovea in 88.0% of the subjects. The mean choroidal thickness was 256.8 ± 75.8 μm, mean thickness of the large choroidal vessel layer was 204.3 ± 65.9 μm, and that of the medium choroidal vessel layer-choriocapillaris layer was 52.9 ± 20.6 μm beneath the fovea. The ratio of large choroidal vessel layer thickness to the total choroidal thickness beneath the fovea was 0.7 ± 0.06. The software-generated ratio of choroidal stromal area to the choroidal vessel lumen area was 0.27 ± 0.08, suggesting that choroidal vessel lumen forms a greater proportion of the choroid than the choroidal stroma in healthy eyes.

Conclusions: This is the first study to describe the morphologic features and vasculature of the choroid in healthy eyes from 1-line raster scans obtained using SD OCT. The method described holds promise and has immediate clinical usefulness in recognizing subtle changes in choroidal morphologic features and the role of choroidal angiopathy in various disease states that, in the future, may inform new treatment methods.

Financial disclosure(s): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Choroid / anatomy & histology*
  • Choroid / blood supply*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence*
  • Young Adult