Objective: Objective and sensitive measurements of the retinal thickness at the posterior pole are useful to detect and delineate macular edema or retinal atrophy. The authors therefore developed an instrument, the Retinal Thickness Analyzer (RTA), to map the retinal thickness rapidly. The RTA was used to study the normal thickness at the posterior pole and to provide a pilot baseline.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Methods: A green (540-nm) laser slit was focused on the retina via a scanning mirror placed at the conjugate plane of the pupil. The intersection between the laser slit and the retina was viewed at an angle and recorded by a video camera. Nine scans, each acquired in 200 to 400 msec, covered the central 20 degrees of the fundus.
Participants: The posterior pole was mapped in 29 normal subjects 19 to 76 years of age (mean, 48 years).
Results: The thickness maps matched the posterior pole anatomy. Points with maximum thickness were located in the perifovea in a C-shaped manner extending from the disc to above and below the fovea. The local variation (standard deviation) in retinal thickness among the subjects was, on average, 15 microns. Age, gender, and race did not have a large effect (< 35 microns) on the values.
Conclusions: Rapid scanning thickness analysis with the RTA provides a detailed map of the retinal thickness. The relatively narrow range of thickness values in normal subjects indicates that the method may provide a sensitive detection of pathologic thickening or thinning of the retina.