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Retina. 2012 Jun;32(6):1045-56. doi: 10.1097/IAE.0b03e31823fb82b.

Pilot study for the detection of early exudative age-related macular degeneration with optical coherence tomography.

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Division of Ophthalmology, Northshore University HealthSystem, Evanston, Illinois, USA.



Optical coherence tomography (OCT) provides microscopic retinal images. Optical coherence tomography is noninvasive, using light waves to produce detailed retinal images. Here, we investigate the ability of OCT to detect early choroidal neovascularization in age-related macular degeneration.


Seventy-nine patients, diagnosed with nonexudative macular degeneration in one eye and exudative macular degeneration in the other were enrolled in this prospective, observational, nonrandomized study. Participants underwent examination (visual acuity, intraocular pressure, biomicroscopy, and ophthalmoscopy) followed by OCT in the study eye (nonexudative macular degeneration eye) every 3 months for 2 years. If examination did not show choroidal neovascularization, but OCT images raised suspicion, patients were reexamined in 4 weeks to 6 weeks and/or fluorescein angiography was performed. Visual acuity, OCT anomaly detected, and time between OCT and fluorescein angiography detection were examined.


Fifteen (19%) patients developed exudative macular degeneration, as confirmed by fluorescein angiography, in the study eye. Four additional patients showed potential exudative macular degeneration on OCT only. Of the 15 patients who developed exudative macular degeneration, 13 had disease progression identified on OCT before examination and/or fluorescein angiography showed changes. Subretinal pigment epithelium fluid was the most common OCT anomaly, with development of sub-/intraretinal fluid also visible.


Optical coherence tomography could be a powerful screening tool for patients with age-related macular degeneration at high risk for developing choroidal neovascularization.

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