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Int J Retina Vitreous. 2019 Apr 1;5:9. doi: 10.1186/s40942-019-0160-4. eCollection 2019.

Macular hyperpigmentary changes in ABCA4-Stargardt disease.

Author information

1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, W. K. Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan, 1000 Wall Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48150 USA.
2Department of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, University of Sao Paulo Medical School, Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
Contributed equally



Stargardt disease (STGD) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) share clinical and pathophysiological features. In AMD, macular hyperpigmentary changes are associated to a worse prognosis. The purpose of this study was to characterize macular hyperpigmentary changes in patients with STGD and associate them with the severity of phenotype.

Materials and methods:

This retrospective cross-sectional study included 141 patients with STGD. Hyperpigmentary changes were evaluated on color fundus photography and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. Severity of phenotype was assessed by full-field electroretinogram (ffERG) and fundus autofluorescence (FAF) patterns, and visual acuity (VA).


Thirty patients (21.7%) showed macular hyperpigmentary changes in four distinct patterns. Out of seventeen patients who had follow-up images, eleven patients demonstrated increases of the hyperpigmented lesions, and progression of the underlying RPE atrophy overtime. VA remained stable. Of 28 patients who had ffERG, 17 patients presented with reduction of photopic and scotopic responses, while 8 presented with reduction of photopic responses only, and 3 presented with preserved photopic and scotopic responses. Of 25 patients who had FAF available, 12 presented with widespread disease extending anteriorly to the vascular arcades, while eight presented with widespread disease, extending beyond the vascular arcades, and 5 presented with disease confined to the foveal area.


In this study, we demonstrated that patients with STGD with macular hyperpigmented lesions had a severe phenotype. Overtime, hyperpigmented lesions increased in size, spread across the retina, and migrated to different retinal layers. Macular hyperpigmentation may be a marker of advanced stage of the disease.


Age related macular degeneration; Genetics; Optical coherence tomography; Prognosis; Stargardt disease

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