Early signs of longitudinal progressive cone photoreceptor degeneration in achromatopsia

Ophthalmology Group, School of Medicine, University of Leicester, RKCSB, PO Box 65, Leicester LE2 7LX, UK
The British journal of ophthalmology (Impact Factor: 2.81). 07/2012; 96(9):1232-6. DOI: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2012-301737
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To characterise longitudinal progressive retinal changes in achromatopsia.
Ultrahigh-resolution spectral optical coherence tomography (Copernicus, 3 μm axial resolution) was used to obtain tomograms of the fovea from five children and three adults with achromatopsia. Each patient was scanned twice with a mean follow-up time of 16 months. Progressive changes in reflectivity at the inner segment/outer segment (IS/OS) junction, the central macular and outer nuclear layer thickness were analysed.
Younger patients (<10 years; patient 1-5) showed progressive morphological changes at the IS/OS junction between visits 1 and 2. However, older patients (>40 years; patients 6-8) did not have any changes in the retinal morphology between visits 1 and 2. In patients 1 and 2, IS/OS discontinuities (visit 1) developed into a hyper-reflective zone confined to the fovea (visit 2). In patient 3, the hyper-reflective zone (visit 1) progressed to form an IS/OS disruption and early formation of a small hypo-reflective zone (visit 2). Patients 4 and 5 had a hypo-reflective zone (visit 1) which subsequently increased in size (visit 2). There was a decrease in central macular and outer nuclear layer thickness between visits 1 and 2 in children.
For the first time, we show progressive longitudinal changes in retinal morphology in achromatopsia. Early changes include subtle IS/OS reflectivity alterations. The dynamic retinal changes in younger patients provide evidence that it represents a progressive disorder, and implementation of gene therapy during the early stages of the disease may provide best prognosis.

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