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Cone Spacing Correlates With Retinal Thickness and Microperimetry in Patients With Inherited Retinal Degenerations



To determine whether high-resolution retinal imaging measures of macular structure correlate with visual function over 36 months in retinal degeneration (RD) patients and normal subjects.


Twenty-six eyes of 16 RD patients and 16 eyes of 8 normal subjects were studied at baseline; 15 eyes (14 RD) and 11 eyes (6 normal) were studied 36 months later. Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) was used to identify regions of interest (ROIs) with unambiguous cones at baseline to measure cone spacing. AOSLO images were aligned with spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and fundus-guided microperimetry results to correlate structure and function at the ROIs. SD-OCT images were segmented to measure inner segment (IS) and outer segment (OS) thickness. Correlations between cone spacing, IS and OS thickness and sensitivity were assessed using Spearman correlation coefficient ρ with bootstrap analyses clustered by person.


Cone spacing (ρ = 0.57, P < 0.001) and macular sensitivity (ρ = 0.19, P = 0.14) were significantly correlated with eccentricity in patients. Controlling for eccentricity, cone spacing Z-scores were inversely correlated with IS (ρ = -0.29, P = 0.002) and OS thickness (ρ = -0.39, P < 0.001) in RD patients only, and with sensitivity in normal subjects (ρ = -0.22, P < 0.001) and RD patients (ρ = -0.38, P < 0.001). After 36 months, cone spacing increased (P < 0.001) and macular sensitivity decreased (P = 0.007) compared to baseline in RD patients.


Cone spacing increased and macular sensitivity declined significantly in RD patients over 36 months. High resolution images of cone structure correlated with retinal sensitivity, and may be appropriate outcome measures for clinical trials in RD.

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