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Fundus autofluorescence in exudative age-related macular degeneration
  1. Vikki A McBain1,
  2. John Townend2,
  3. Noemi Lois1
  1. 1Ophthalmology Department, Grampian University Hospitals-NHS Trust, Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2Medical Statistics Group, Department of Public Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Dr N Lois Ophthalmology Department, Grampian University Hospitals NHS Trust, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK; noemilois{at}


Aim: To evaluate the distribution of fundus autofluorescence in patients with age-related macular degeneration and choroidal neovascularisation (CNV).

Methods: Colour fundus photographs, fundus fluorescein angiograms (FFA) and fundus autofluorescence images were obtained from a group of 40 patients (43 eyes) with age-related macular degeneration and purely classic or occult CNV. Only patients with newly diagnosed CNV and in whom autofluorescence images were obtained within 2 weeks from FFA were included. The distribution of autofluorescence was qualitatively evaluated, and the findings compared with those from colour fundus photographs and FFA.

Results: 29 (67%) eyes had classic CNV and 14 (33%) had occult CNV. In 26 (90%) eyes with classic CNV, a low autofluorescence signal was detected at the site of the CNV; in 7 (50%) eyes with occult CNV, multiple foci of low autofluorescence signal were detected. Outside the area affected by the lesion, homogeneous autofluorescence was observed in most of the cases (n = 33, 77%). Similarly, homogeneous autofluorescence was commonly observed in fellow eyes (62%). A pattern of focal increased autofluorescence was rarely seen in eyes with CNV (n = 4, 9%) or in fellow eyes (n = 4, 15%). In 11 of 43 (25%) eyes, areas of increased autofluorescence, other than a pattern of focal increased autofluorescence, were detected. In four patients, autofluorescence images had been obtained before the development of CNV; in none was any increased autofluorescence detected before the formation of CNV.

Conclusions: Distinct patterns of autofluorescence were observed in eyes with pure classic and occult CNV. Increased autofluorescence was rarely seen in eyes with CNV and in fellow eyes, suggesting that increased autofluorescence, and thus, retinal pigment epithelium lipofuscin, may not play an essential part in the formation of CNV.

  • A2E, N-retinylidene N-retinyl ethanolamine
  • AMD, age-related macular degeneration
  • CNV, choroidal neovascularisation
  • FFA, fundus fluorescein angiograms
  • OCT, optical coherence tomography
  • RPE, retinal pigment epithelium

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  • Published Online First 6 September 2006

  • Funding: This research project was supported partly by a grant from Tenovus, Scotland.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Presented partly at the 8th Michelson Symposium, 8–11 June 2005, Ghent, Belgium, and at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 30 April –4 May 2006.

    Ethical approval: This research was approved by the Grampian Local Research Ethics Committee.