To describe the morphology of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) tears secondary to age-related macular degeneration by using high-resolution, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).
For simultaneous topographic and tomographic in vivo imaging, confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography were applied in combination. Retina over the RPE-denuded area was particularly examined for signs of viable photoreceptors.
A total of 26 patients (28 eyes) were included in the study. The mean (SD) age of patients was 78 (8) years (age range, 62-91 years). In cases with recent RPE tears, external limiting membrane, photoreceptor inner and outer segment junction, and nonatrophic outer nuclear layer could be identified in the retina on the RPE-denuded area. Intact external limiting membrane, photoreceptor inner and outer segment junction, and nonatrophic outer nuclear layer could be seen in 1 patient for up to 325 days after the RPE tear. In fibrotic older RPE tears, these structures were atrophic.
In this study, signs for viable photoreceptors could be identified for up to 325 days after an RPE tear using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. This finding is important to consider in future therapies aimed at rescuing photoreceptors after RPE tears.