Purpose: To investigate the macular choriocapillary circulation (MCC) in eyes with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and to correlate these findings with the associated clinical and angiographic drusen characteristics.
Methods: Scanning laser ophthalmoscope fluorescein videoangiography was performed on 34 eyes with age-related macular degeneration and eight age-matched normal volunteers. Drusen characteristics were assessed using the Wisconsin age-related maculopathy grading scale.
Results: A delayed macular choriocapillary circulation (DMCC) was defined as a macular choriocapillary filling time greater than 3 standard deviations from the normal mean (greater than 5 seconds). Nine (26%) of the 34 eyes with ARMD were found to have a DMCC. After age adjustment, eyes with DMCC were more likely to have geographic atrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium (p = 0.003) or choroidal neovascularization p = 0.07) than were eyes with a normal MCC. Regional differences in choriocapillary filling times were present in the eyes with a DMCC, including nasal-to-temporal, central-to-peripheral, and inferior-to-superior gradients of progressively less choriocapillary filling delay. The DMCC correlated with the location, number, size, confluence, and fluorescein staining characteristics of the associated drusen.
Conclusion: DMCC occurs in some eyes with ARMD. This finding may not only assist in defining eyes at risk for progressive disease but may also help to elucidate the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration.