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Christian Ahlers, Erich Götzinger, Michael Pircher, Isabelle Golbaz, Franz Prager, Christopher Schütze, Bernhard Baumann, Christoph K. Hitzenberger, Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth; Imaging of the Retinal Pigment Epithelium in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Using Polarization-Sensitive Optical Coherence Tomography. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(4):2149-2157. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-3817.
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Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) provides new insights into the understanding of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) but limited information on the nature of hyperreflective tissue at the level of the retinal pigment epithelium. Therefore, polarization-sensitive (PS) SD-OCT was used to identify and characterize typical RPE findings in AMD.
Forty-four eyes of 44 patients with AMD were included in this prospective case series representing the entire AMD spectrum from drusen (n = 11), geographic atrophy (GA; n = 11), neovascular AMD (nAMD; n = 11) to fibrotic scars (n = 11). Imaging systems were used for comparative imaging. A PS-SD-OCT instrument was developed that was capable of recording intensity and polarization parameters simultaneously during a single scan.
In drusen, PS-SD-OCT identified a continuous RPE layer with focal elevations. Discrete RPE atrophy (RA) could be observed in two patients. In GA, the extension of the RA was significantly larger. Residual RPE islands could be detected within the atrophic zone. PS-SD-OCT identified multiple foci of RPE loss in patients with nAMD and allowed recognition of advanced RPE disease associated with choroidal neovascularization. Wide areas of RA containing residual spots of intact retinal pigment epithelium could be identified in fibrotic scars.
PS-SD-OCT provided precise identification of retinal pigment epithelium in AMD. Recognition of these disease-specific RA patterns in dry and wet forms of AMD is of particular relevance to identify the status and progression of RPE disease and may help to better estimate the functional prognosis of AMD.
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