Purpose: To evaluate the role of right-angled vessels (RAVs) during disease progression in macular telangiectasia type 2 (MacTel).
Methods: In this study, 100 eyes of 52 patients and 52 eyes of 26 age-related controls were examined using fundus photography, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), OCT angiography (OCT-A) and fundus fluorescein angiography (FFA). Two masked readers graded fundus photographs of patients' eyes into five disease stages according to Gass and Blodi, and evaluated all eyes for the presence of RAVs. If RAVs were present, their course and origin (arterial vs venous) was evaluated with OCT-A and FFA, respectively. Additionally, we looked for morphological correlates of these vessels on SD-OCT scans. Neovascular eyes were analysed for the presence of RAVs and for morphological changes on formation of neovascularisations (NVs).
Results: In OCT-A, RAVs were already detectable in eyes with early stages (1 to 2), could be tracked from superficial to outer retinal layers and were shown to form anastomoses in the outer retina with disease progression. These vessels were of both arterial and venous origin as shown by early phase FFA. Dilated capillaries and RAVs in OCT-A corresponded to hyper-reflective alterations of the outer retina on SD-OCT scans. In 19/19 eyes, NVs were associated with the presence of RAVs, and RAVs were shown to directly connect to neovascular complexes and to undergo morphological changes upon NV formation.
Conclusions: The results emphasise the role of RAVs during disease progression from an early stage on and demonstrate their involvement in the development of secondary NVs in MacTel.
Keywords: imaging; macula; neovascularisation; retina.
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