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N. Layer, A. Soliman, H. Wu, J. F. De Boer, T. C. Chen; Effect of Age on Healthy Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Thickness Measurements Using Spectral-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (SD-OCT). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):4403.
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To investigate the effect of age on spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) measurements of global and sectoral retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thicknesses in healthy subjects.
Study design was retrospective, observational and cross-sectional. 102 healthy subjects (156 eyes) were scanned using a commercially available SD-OCT system (Spectralis, Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany). RNFL thickness parameters included global and quadrant measurements as well as measurements from 2 further subdivisions (the temporal and nasal aspects) of the superior and inferior quadrants. Patients were grouped according to age for analysis, and all RNFL parameters were analyzed using averages ± standard deviation.
RNFL thickness parameters (i.e. global RNFL, quadrant RNFL, and sectoral RNFL) all trended down with increasing age. For all eyes, the global RNFL thickness decreased at an average rate of 0.18 microns per year, the superior RNFL quadrant at 0.30 microns per year, and the inferior quadrant at 0.26 microns per year. The temporal RNFL thickness was the least affected by aging (i.e. an average of 70.5 ± 14.3 microns at an average age of 19 years old to 70.2 ± 11.6 microns at an average age of 78 years old). These estimated rates of RNFL thinning due to normal aging are less than the common within-subject standard deviation (Sw) measurement reproducibility of 1.34 ± 0.20 microns (overall global) and 2.39 ± 0.35 microns (TS sector and TI sector) for all eyes.
Our study suggests that age and RNFL thickness may be inversely related as measured by SD-OCT. Although age effects on global and sectoral RNFL thickness parameters should be considered when evaluating patient RNFL thickness over time, the estimated change in RNFL thickness due to aging is less than the measurement reproducibility of the Spectralis machine.
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