To define the clinical and optical coherence tomography (OCT) morphology of the lacrimal punctum and assess the age-related changes across 8 decades of life in a normal population.
A total of 1310 high-magnification slit-lamp, Fourier-domain OCT (FD-OCT), and optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) images were obtained from 320 puncta of normal asymptomatic individuals representing the Indian population. The punctum and peri-punctal area were defined with the help of 2 rims (inner punctal rim and outer punctal rim ) and 3 zones (white zone [Wz], separation zone [Sz], and peri-punctal vascularity). FD-OCT images were used to measure the external punctal diameters and internal lacrimal punctal diameters and the reflectivity patterns of the 3 punctal layers. OCTA was used to assess the branching and extent of vascular networks.
The upper puncta were narrower and more circular than the lower puncta across the decades. The elevation of the punctal papilla began in the upper puncta in the fifth decade, involved the lower puncta in the sixth decade, and gradually became exaggerated by the eighth decade. A typical punctal narrowing in previously wide puncta began to appear in the sixth decade of life, peaks in the seventh decade, and reverses gradually and spontaneously by the end of the eighth decade of life. The third and fourth decades saw a narrowing of the Sz with prominent vascularity crossing the Sz to reach the Wz. The Sz became indistinct in the fifth and sixth decades of life. The FD-OCT showed gradual thickening and dominance of the fibrous layer from the fifth to eighth decade of life. The clinical vascularity in the peri-punctal region increases from the third decade onwards, with vascular networks becoming increasingly dense, intricate, and branched as the age progresses.
The present study defined and characterized the involutional changes in a normal population’s first–eighth decades of life. Significant morphological changes were noticed across the different age groups with several clinical implications.