Purpose: The aim of this pilot study was to test whether mathematical parameters of the vascular morphology of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) can be used as biomarkers and to investigate how these parameters change during anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy.
Methods: Treatment-naive CNV in exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD) was diagnosed in 28 patients. OCT-angiography (OCT-A) (Avanti/FA Optovue) performed before and after anti-VEGF therapy. The OCT-A data sets were exported to an external image processing program and vessel skeletonization was accomplished by means of edge detection. Based on this technique the total vessel length, the number of segments and the fractal dimension (FD) of the CNV were calculated before and after therapy. The results were compared with other clinical parameters such as VA and central retinal thickness (RT).
Results: The total vessel length of the CNV was significantly reduced by anti-VEGF-therapy (mean value 652 pixels vs. 397 pixels; p < 0.0001), as well as the number of individual vessel segments of the CNV (mean value 117 vs. 76; p < 0.0001). The FD of the CNV also decreased significant reduction during therapy (mean 1.23 vs. 1.16, p < 0.0001). The changes in these parameters during treatment corresponded with an increase in VA and a reduction in RT.
Conclusion: This pilot study demonstrates that the vascular pattern of CNV in AMD can be visualized and described using mathematical parameters of OCT-A. The changes during therapy correlate significantly with established "activity" parameters of CNV, so changes in these parameters (especially FD) may represent additional CNV "activity" biomarkers.