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Dynamic soft drusen remodelling in age-related macular degeneration
  1. R Theodore Smith1,
  2. Mahsa A Sohrab1,
  3. Nicole Pumariega1,2,
  4. Yue Chen1,
  5. Jian Chen2,3,
  6. Noah Lee2,
  7. Andrew Laine2
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, Harkness Eye Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA
  2. 2Department of Biomedical Engineering, Fu Foundation SEAS, Columbia University, New York, USA
  3. 3Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr R Theodore Smith, Columbia University Harkness Eye Institute, 160 Ft. Washington Avenue, Room 509C, New York, NY 10032, USA; rts1{at}


Aims To demonstrate and quantify the dynamic remodelling process of soft drusen resorption and new drusen formation in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with novel interactive methods.

Methods Twenty patients with large soft drusen bilaterally and without advanced AMD were imaged at baseline and again at a mean interval of 2 years (40 eyes, 80 images). Each of the 40 serial pairs of images was precisely registered by an automated technique. The drusen were segmented by a user-interactive method based on a background levelling algorithm and classified into three groups: new drusen (only in the final image), resorbed drusen (present initially but not in the final image) and stable drusen (present in both images). We measured each of these classes as well as the absolute change in drusen |D1 − D0| and the dynamic drusen activity (creation and resorption) Dnew+Dresorbed.

Results Mean dynamic activity for the right eye (OD) was 7.33±5.50%, significantly greater than mean absolute change (2.71±2.89%, p=0.0002, t test), with similar results for the left eye (OS). However, dynamic activity OD compared with OS (mean 7.33±5.50 vs 7.91±4.16%, NS) and absolute net change OD versus OS (2.71±2.89 vs 3.46±3.97%, NS) tended to be symmetrical between fellow eyes.

Conclusions Dynamic remodelling processes of drusen resorption and new drusen formation are distinct disease activities that can occur simultaneously and are not captured by change in total drusen load. Dynamic changes occur at rates more than twice that of net changes, and may be a useful marker of disease activity.

  • Digital image analysis
  • drusen
  • grading system
  • macular degeneration
  • retina
  • macula

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  • Funding Supported by grants from The New York Community Trust (New York, USA), National Eye Institute Grant R01 EY015520 (Bethesda, Maryland, USA) and the National Institutes of Health, and unrestricted funds from Research to Prevent Blindness (New York, USA). The funding organisations had no role in the design or conduct of this research.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institutional Review Board at Columbia University.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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