Background: Inherited retinal degeneration (IRD) refers to a heterogenous group of progressive diseases that cause death of photoreceptor cells and subsequent vision loss. These diseases often affect the peripheral retina, objective evaluation of which has been difficult until recently. Fundus autofluorescence (FAF) is a non-invasive retinal imaging technique that depicts the distribution of intrinsic fluorophores in the retina. The primary source of retinal autofluorescence is lipofuscin, which is contained in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Excessive accumulation of lipofuscin and a window defect attributable to loss of photoreceptor pigment result in increased FAF whereas loss of the RPE results in decreased FAF. These changes can be seen during the course of IRD.
Mainbody: While conventional modalities are limited in their angle of view, recent technologic advances, known as wide-field and ultra-widefield FAF imaging, have enabled visualization of the far peripheral retina. Although clinical application of this technique in patients with IRD is still in its infancy, some studies have already indicated its usefulness. For example, an area with decreased FAF correlates well with a visual field defect in an eye with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) or cone-rod dystrophy. An abnormal FAF pattern may help in the diagnosis of IRD and associated diseases. In addition, female carriers of X-linked RP and female choroideremia show characteristic appearance. Conversely, absence of abnormal FAF despite severe retinal degeneration helps differentiation of cancer-associated retinopathy.
Conclusion: This paper reviews the principles of FAF, wide-field imaging, and findings in specific diseases. Wide-field imaging, particularly wide-field FAF, will provide further information for the characteristics, prognosis, and pathogenesis of IRD.
Keywords: Cone-rod dystrophy; Confocal scanning laser opthalmoscope; Fundus autofluorescence; Optomap; Optos; Retinal degeneration; Retinal dystrophy; Retinitis pigmentosa; Wide angle.
© The Author(s) 2019.
Conflict of interest statement
Competing interestsAs stated above, this submission was supported by Optos. There are no other competing interests.
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