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Chantal Dysli, Kaspar Schuerch, Pascal Escher, Sebastian Wolf, Martin S. Zinkernagel; Fundus Autofluorescence Lifetime Patterns in Retinitis Pigmentosa. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(5):1769-1778. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-23336.
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We investigated whether fundus autofluorescence (FAF) lifetimes in patients with retinitis pigmentosa display a disease-specific lifetime pattern.
Fundus autofluorescence lifetime imaging ophthalmoscopy (FLIO) was performed in two spectral channels (498–560 and 560–720 nm) after excitation with a 473 nm pulsed laser in patients with retinitis pigmentosa and compared to healthy controls of a similar age range. Corresponding FAF intensity and spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) data, as well as best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) were acquired and compared to fluorescence lifetime data.
We investigated 43 eyes from 43 patients with retinitis pigmentosa (mean age 45 ± 15 years) and compared them to eyes of 13 age-matched healthy participants. Mean FAF lifetimes were prolonged in areas of photoreceptor atrophy with preserved retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) (P = 0.0036) and even longer in areas with total atrophy of photoreceptors and RPE (P = 0.0002). The prevalence of perifoveal ring structures characterized by prolonged fluorescence lifetimes in FLIO was higher (63% vs. 49%) and the rings were wider compared to the hyperautofluorescent rings in qualitative fundus autofluorescence intensity images. In the central fovea with intact retinal layer structure identified by OCT, fluorescence lifetimes were slightly prolonged compared to those of age-matched healthy controls (short spectral channel [SSC], P = 0.0044; long spectral channel [LSC], P = 0.0128). Short lifetimes within the macular center were negatively correlated with BCVA (R2 = 0.33, P < 0.0001) as well as the greatest diameter of the ellipsoid band in OCT.
FLIO in retinitis pigmentosa reveals characteristic patterns that allow identification of areas of photoreceptor atrophy, RPE atrophy, and remaining photoreceptor segments in areas of RPE atrophy. Fluorescence lifetimes can be used to identify ellipsoid zone loss that correlates with functional parameters.
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