Serial Spectral-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography Findings in Acute Retinal Pigment Epitheliitis and the Correlation to Visual Acuity

Ophthalmology. 2017 Jun;124(6):903-909. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.01.043. Epub 2017 Mar 8.


Purpose: To evaluate the features of acute retinal pigment epitheliitis (ARPE) at onset and in the course of recovery by serial spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD OCT) and the correlation to visual acuity (VA).

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Participants: Consecutive patients with ARPE.

Methods: A review of medical records was performed.

Main outcome measures: Integrity of SD OCT retinal bands at onset and in the course of disease, time required to achieve each retinal band restoration, corresponding VA change, and final VA.

Results: Four patients were included. Initial SD OCT showed a dome-shaped hyper-reflective lesion at the photoreceptor outer segment layer disrupting the ellipsoid zone (EZ) and interdigitation zone (IZ) (100%). In the early phase, there was also upward displacement of the external limiting membrane (ELM) and mild transient thickening of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)/Bruch's complex (Bc). Acute retinal pigment epitheliitis resolved in a sequence of (1) a decrease in height of SD OCT hyper-reflective lesion and the upwardly displaced ELM returning to its normal position with irregularity; (2) complete disappearance of the hyper-reflective lesion; (3) restoration of ELM; (4) restoration of EZ; and (5) restoration of IZ. The average time to restore ELM, EZ, and IZ was 4.3±5.2, 7.3±7.2, and 12.5±12.4 weeks, respectively, and the corresponding logarithm of the minimum angles of resolution (logMAR) VAs were 0.24±0.23, 0.09±0.07, and 0.05±0.06, respectively. Visual acuity improved when IZ was restored.

Conclusions: Early SD OCT revealed an inflammatory lesion in the photoreceptor outer segment layer displacing ELM. The RPE was involved only mildly and transiently. Recovery occurred in a sequence of ELM, EZ, and IZ restoration, and VA improved when the IZ was restored. These features suggested that the IZ (i.e., the contact between photoreceptors and RPE) is the primary site of inflammation in ARPE.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / drug effects
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology*
  • Retinitis / diagnosis*
  • Retinitis / drug therapy
  • Retinitis / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Glucocorticoids