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Exp Eye Res. 2013 Mar;108:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2012.12.011. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

A study of factors affecting the human cone photoreceptor density measured by adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.


To investigate the variation in human cone photoreceptor packing density with various demographic or clinical factors, cone packing density was measured using a Canon prototype adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope and compared as a function of retinal eccentricity, refractive error, axial length, age, gender, race/ethnicity and ocular dominance. We enrolled 192 eyes of 192 subjects with no ocular pathology. Cone packing density was measured at three different retinal eccentricities (0.5 mm, 1.0 mm, and 1.5 mm from the foveal center) along four meridians. Cone density decreased from 32,200 to 11,600 cells/mm(2) with retinal eccentricity (0.5 mm to 1.5 mm from the fovea, P < 0.001). A trend towards a slightly negative correlation was observed between age and density (r = -0.117, P = 0.14). There was, however, a statistically significant negative correlation (r = -0.367, P = 0.003) between axial length and cone density. Gender, ocular dominance, and race/ethnicity were not important determinants of cone density (all, P > 0.05). In addition, to assess the spatial arrangement of the cone mosaics, the nearest-neighbor distances (NNDs) and the Voronoi domains were analyzed. The results of NND and Voronoi analysis were significantly correlated with the variation of the cone density. Average NND and Voronoi area were gradually increased (all, P ≤ 0.001) and the degree of regularity of the cone mosaics was decreased (P ≤ 0.001) with increasing retinal eccentricity. In conclusion, we demonstrated cone packing density decreases as a function of retinal eccentricity and axial length and the results of NND and Voronoi analysis is a useful index for cone mosaics arrangements. The results also serve as a reference for further studies designed to detect or monitor cone photoreceptors in patients with retinal diseases.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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