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Andreas Pollreisz, Gregor S. Reiter, Hrvoje Bogunovic, Lukas Baumann, Astrid Jakob, Ferdinand G. Schlanitz, Stefan Sacu, Cynthia Owsley, Kenneth R. Sloan, Christine A. Curcio, Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth; Topographic Distribution and Progression of Soft Drusen Volume in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Implicate Neurobiology of Fovea. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(2):26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.2.26.
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To refine estimates of macular soft drusen abundance in eyes with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and evaluate hypotheses about drusen biogenesis, we investigated topographic distribution and growth rates of drusen by optical coherence tomography (OCT). We compared results to retinal features with similar topographies (cone density and macular pigment) in healthy eyes.
In a prospective study, distribution and growth rates of soft drusen in eyes with AMD were identified by human observers in OCT volumes and analyzed with computer-assistance. Published histologic data for macular cone densities (n = 12 eyes) and in vivo macular pigment optical density (MPOD) measurements in older adults with unremarkable maculae (n = 31; 62 paired eyes, averaged) were revisited. All values were normalized to Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) subfield areas.
Sixty-two eyes of 44 patients were imaged for periods up to 78 months. Soft drusen volume per unit volume at baseline is 24.6-fold and 2.3-fold higher in the central ETDRS subfield than in outer and inner rings, respectively, and grows most prominently there. Corresponding ratios (central versus inner and central versus outer) for cone density in donor eyes is 13.3-fold and 5.1-fold and for MPOD, 24.6 and 23.9-fold, and 3.6 and 3.6-fold.
Normalized soft drusen volume in AMD eyes as assessed by OCT is ≥ 20-fold higher in central ETDRS subfields than in outer rings, paralleling MPOD distribution in healthy eyes. Data on drusen volume support this metric for AMD risk assessment and clinical trial outcome measure. Alignment of different data modalities support the ETDRS grid for standardizing retinal topography in mechanistic studies of drusen biogenesis.
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