To correlate drusen morphology and outer retinal status with autofluorescence (AF) imaging in patients with intermediate age-related macular degeneration.
Drusen type and morphology were analyzed using color fundus photography and spectral-domain optic coherence tomography, whereas fundus AF was used for drusen AF evaluation. Additional structural changes on spectral-domain optic coherence tomography, such as disruption of external limiting membrane, ellipsoid zone, and retinal pigment epithelium/Bruch membrane complex, as well as the presence of choroidal hypertransmission at correspondent locations were also evaluated and correlated with fundus AF findings. Spearman's correlation coefficient was used to analyze the correlation between spectral-domain optic coherence tomography morphological characteristics of drusen and AF appearance of the corresponding drusen. Strength of correlation was calculated (r), and a P value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Two hundred and twenty-eight drusen from 53 eyes of 53 patients were analyzed, 130 soft drusen (57.02%) and 98 cuticular drusen (42.98%). Sixty percent of the drusen were isoautofluorescent (n = 136), 35% hyperautofluorescent (n = 80), and 5% hypoautofluorescent (n = 12). We found positive correlation between drusen AF and hyperreflective foci (r = 0.4). Outer retinal layers morphology (external limiting membrane and ellipsoid zone status and hypertransmission) also correlates with autofluorescent findings (r = 0.3).
Multimodal imaging reveals a broad spectrum of ultrastructural changes, which may reflect different stages in the evolution of drusen. Our results suggest that drusen morphological characteristics and autofluorescent findings are correlated but other factors or cofactors may be involved. The described correlations will help us understand new progression biomarkers of nonexudative age-related macular degeneration.