Purpose: To evaluate the photoreceptor layer in eyes with branch retinal vein occlusion associated with macular ischemia, using a method of en face optical coherence tomography (OCT) representation of the ellipsoid zone.
Methods: Customized macular OCT scans of 9 patients (10 eyes) with branch retinal vein occlusion and macular ischemia were exported and subsequently postprocessed (removal of vascular and cystic spaces' shadows, segmentation, and alignment to the retinal pigment epithelium). The ellipsoid band was then isolated, aligned, and used to produce an en face OCT image. Areas with photoreceptor loss (hyporeflective ellipsoid) were compared with ischemic areas as identified in an early-phase fluorescein angiography.
Results: The areas of capillary nonperfusion (as detected in fluorescein angiography) were closely associated with disruption of the ellipsoid zone (depicted as areas of low reflectance in the en face reconstruction of the OCT images). The ellipsoid zone disruption had a patchy appearance and either sharp or fuzzy borders, depending on the grade of the loss of reflectance.
Conclusion: En face OCT reconstruction and subsequent representation of ellipsoid zone revealed a close association between capillary nonperfusion and photoreceptor disruption in eyes with branch retinal vein occlusion. It seems that the deep capillary plexus plays an important role on the metabolic demands of outer retina and, consequently, an ischemia at the level of deep capillary plexus has significant impact on the integrity of the photoreceptors.