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Korean J Ophthalmol. 2013 Feb;27(1):19-27. doi: 10.3341/kjo.2013.27.1.19. Epub 2013 Jan 15.

Morphologic characteristics of the outer retina in cone dystrophy on spectral-domain optical coherence tomography.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea.



To investigate the morphologic changes in the outer retina of patients with cone dystrophy, using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).


The medical records of 15 cone dystrophy patients examined from January 2007 to January 2012 were reviewed retrospectively. All patients underwent ophthalmic evaluation including best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), color vision testing, fundus examination, full-field standard electroretinography (ERG), multifocal (mf) ERG, and SD-OCT. Qualitative and quantitative SD-OCT data and ERG responses were analyzed and compared among the patient categories and the normal control group.


There were 4 major categories of SD-OCT findings, based on the status of the ellipsoid portion of the photoreceptor inner segment (ISe), outer segment (OS) contact cylinder, and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) layer. Category 0 showed no structural abnormalities. Category 1 showed foveal ISe loss and obscurity of the border between the ISe band and the external limiting membrane (ELM). Category 2 showed foveal thinning and focal foveal ISe disruption with an intact ELM. Category 3 showed foveal thickening and perifoveal disruption of the ISe layer. Category 1 to 3 showed OS contact cylinder layer absence and RPE thickening. The patients in category 0 tended to be younger (mean, 10.0 years) than those in categories 1 to 3 (mean, 17.6 years), although this difference was not statistically significant. Category 1 to 3 patients exhibited statistically significant thinning of the central retina and outer nuclear layer and thickening of the RPE layer relative to the category 0 and normal control group. There was a significant correlation between the central foveal thickness and BCVA in the patients with cone dystrophy. ERG and mfERG responses did not differ significantly among the different cone dystrophy categories.


The morphologic features of cone dystrophy as revealed by SD-OCT, could be categorized as either normal or 1 of 3 different types of outer retinal changes. The presence of normal retinal structures in young cone dystrophy patients with functional impairment (category 0) indicates that electrophysiologic studies are superior to current imaging modalities for the early diagnosis of cone dystrophy. The characteristic SD-OCT findings in cone dystrophy patients may aid in differential diagnosis and be useful for future research on the pathology of cone dystrophy.


Cone dystrophy; Electroretinography; Photoreceptor cells; Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography

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