Abnormal foveal morphology in carriers of oculocutaneous albinism

Br J Ophthalmol. 2023 Aug;107(8):1202-1208. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2020-318192. Epub 2022 Apr 4.


Background/aims: To investigate the foveal morphology in carriers of oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). A cross-sectional, observational study.

Methods: Handheld SD-OCT (Envisu C2300) was used to acquire horizontal scans through the centre of the fovea in biological parents of patients with OCA (n=28; mean age±SD=40.43±8.07 years) and age-matched and ethnicity-matched controls (n=28; mean age±SD=38.04±10.27 years). Sequence analysis was performed for variants in known genes associated with OCA. Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), presence of foveal hypoplasia and grade, foveal, parafoveal and perifoveal thickness measurements of total retinal layers (TRL), inner retinal layers (IRL) and outer retinal layers (ORL) thickness were measured.

Results: Foveal hypoplasia was identified in 32.14% of OCA carriers; grade 1 in all cases. OCA carriers demonstrated significant thicker TRL thickness (median difference: 13.46 µm, p=0.009) and IRL thickness (mean difference: 8.98 µm, p<0.001) at the central fovea compared with controls. BCVA of carriers was between -0.16 and 0.18 logMAR (mean: 0.0 logMAR). No significant differences in BCVA was noted between OCA carriers or controls (p=0.83). In the OCA carriers, we identified previously reported pathogenic variants in TYR, OCA2 and SLC45A2, novel OCA2 variants (n=3) and heterozygosity of the pathogenic TYR haplotype.

Conclusion: We have, for the first time, identified foveal abnormalities in OCA carriers. This provides clinical value, particularly in cases where limited phenotype data are available. Our findings raise the possibility that previously reported mild cases of foveal hypoplasia or isolated foveal hypoplasia could correspond to OCA carrier status.

Keywords: genetics; imaging; macula; retina; vision.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albinism, Oculocutaneous* / diagnosis
  • Albinism, Oculocutaneous* / genetics
  • Albinism, Oculocutaneous* / pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fovea Centralis* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Retina
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods
  • Vision Disorders / pathology

Supplementary concepts

  • Oculocutaneous albinism type 2