Purpose. Recent technological advances in fundus autofluorescence (FAF) are providing new opportunities for insight into retinal physiology and pathophysiology. FAF provides distinctly different imaging information than standard photography or color separation. A review of the basis for this imaging technology is included to help the clinician understand how to interpret FAF images. Cases are presented to illustrate image interpretation.
Methods. Optos, which manufactures equipment for simultaneous panoramic imaging, has recently outfitted several units with AF capabilities. Six cases are presented in which panoramic autofluorescent (PAF) images highlight retinal pathology, using Optos' Ultra-Widefield technology. Supportive imaging technologies, such as Optomap® images and spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), are used to assist in the clinical interpretation of retinal pathology detected on PAF.
Results. Hypofluorescent regions on FAF are identified to occur along with a disruption in the photoreceptors and/or retinal pigment epithelium, as borne out on SD-OCT. Hyperfluorescent regions on FAF occur at the advancing zones of retinal degeneration, indicating impending damage. PAF enables such inferences to be made in retinal areas which lie beyond the reach of SD-OCT imaging. PAF also enhances clinical pattern recognition over a large area and in comparison with the fellow eye. Symmetric retinal degenerations often occur with genetic conditions, such as retinitis pigmentosa, and may impel the clinician to recommend genetic testing.
Conclusions. Autofluorescent ophthalmoscopy is a non-invasive procedure that can detect changes in metabolic activity at the retinal pigment epithelium before clinical ophthalmoscopy. Already, AF is being used as an adjunct technology to fluorescein angiography in cases of age-related macular degeneration. Both hyper- and hypoautofluorescent changes are indicative of pathology. Peripheral retinal abnormalities may precede central retinal impacts, potentially providing early signs for intervention before impacting visual acuity. The panoramic image enhances clinical pattern recognition over a large area and in comparison between eyes. Optos' Ultra-Widefield technology is capable of capturing high-resolution images of the peripheral retina without requiring dilation.