Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a vision-threatening disease that affects the outer retina and choroid of elderly adults. Because photoreceptors are found in the outer retina and rely primarily on the trophic support of the underlying choriocapillaris, imaging of flow or lack thereof in choriocapillaris by optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) has great clinical potential in AMD assessment. We introduce a metric using OCTA, named "focal perfusion loss" (FPL) to describe the effects of age and non-neovascular AMD on choriocapillaris flow. Because OCTA imaging of choriocapillaris is vulnerable to artifacts - namely motion, projections, segmentation errors, and shadows - they are removed by postprocessing software. The shadow detection software is a machine learning algorithm recently developed for the evaluation of the retinal circulation and here adapted for choriocapillaris analysis. It aims to exclude areas with unreliable flow signal due to blocking of the OCT beam by objects anterior to the choriocapillaris (e.g., drusen, retinal vessels, vitreous floaters, and iris). We found that both the FPL and the capillary density were able to detect changes in the choriocapillaris of AMD and healthy age-matched subjects with respect to young controls. The dominant cause of shadowing in AMD is drusen, and the shadow exclusion algorithm helps determine which areas under drusen retain sufficient signal for perfusion evaluation and which areas must be excluded. Such analysis allowed us to determine unambiguously that choriocapillaris density under drusen is indeed reduced.
- age-related macular degeneration
- optical coherence tomography angiography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging