Drusen regression is associated with local changes in fundus autofluorescence in intermediate age-related macular degeneration

Am J Ophthalmol. 2013 Sep;156(3):532-542.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2013.04.031. Epub 2013 Jul 3.


Purpose: To investigate the association of spontaneous drusen regression in intermediate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with changes on fundus photography and fundus autofluorescence (FAF) imaging.

Design: Prospective observational case series.

Methods: Fundus images from 58 eyes (in 58 patients) with intermediate AMD and large drusen were assessed over 2 years for areas of drusen regression that exceeded the area of circle C1 (diameter 125 μm; Age-Related Eye Disease Study grading protocol). Manual segmentation and computer-based image analysis were used to detect and delineate areas of drusen regression. Delineated regions were graded as to their appearance on fundus photographs and FAF images, and changes in FAF signal were graded manually and quantitated using automated image analysis.

Results: Drusen regression was detected in approximately half of study eyes using manual (48%) and computer-assisted (50%) techniques. At year-2, the clinical appearance of areas of drusen regression on fundus photography was mostly unremarkable, with a majority of eyes (71%) demonstrating no detectable clinical abnormalities, and the remainder (29%) showing minor pigmentary changes. However, drusen regression areas were associated with local changes in FAF that were significantly more prominent than changes on fundus photography. A majority of eyes (64%-66%) demonstrated a predominant decrease in overall FAF signal, while 14%-21% of eyes demonstrated a predominant increase in overall FAF signal.

Conclusions: FAF imaging demonstrated that drusen regression in intermediate AMD was often accompanied by changes in local autofluorescence signal. Drusen regression may be associated with concurrent structural and physiologic changes in the outer retina.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00345176.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography*
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Macular Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photography
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Retinal Drusen / diagnosis*
  • Retinal Drusen / physiopathology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00345176