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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2000 Feb;41(2):496-504.

Autofluorescence distribution associated with drusen in age-related macular degeneration.

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Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



To determine whether drusen in patients with age-related maculopathy and macular degeneration (ARM/AMD) are associated with focal changes in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) lipofuscin fluorescence.


A new autofluorescence imaging device was used to study lipofuscin distribution associated with individual drusen in 20 patients with ARM/AMD. Paired monochromatic and autofluorescence fundus images were used for detailed analysis of the topography of autofluorescence at specific sites containing drusen. In four eyes, image analysis was used to compare the spatial distribution of the autofluorescence with the location of drusen and to quantify the autofluorescence distribution over individual drusen (54 drusen). REsuLTs. A specific pattern of autofluorescence was frequently found to be spatially associated with hard drusen and soft drusen between 60 and 175 microm in size. The pattern is characterized by a central area of decreased autofluorescence surrounded, in most cases, by an annulus of increased autofluorescence. The location of this pattern was highly correlated with the position of individual distinct drusen. The central low autofluorescence focus was on average 16% below the surrounding background, and the annulus, when present, was on average 6% more fluorescent than the background. Soft drusen larger than 175 microm and confluent soft drusen show either multifocal areas of low autofluorescence or a more heterogeneous distribution. CONCLUSIoNs. Autofluorescence imaging permits measurement of RPE lipofuscin at specific sites. RPE overlying drusen have altered autofluorescence, suggesting changes in RPE health.

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