J Neuroophthalmol. 2022 Sep 1;42(3):328-333. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000001592. Epub 2022 Mar 30.
BACKGROUND: To assess the prevalence of macular microcystoid lacunae in patients with autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA) and its association with visual function and inner retinal morphology.
METHODS: The study included 140 participants with ADOA, with a mean age of 44 (SD ±19, range 7-82) years. Study participants with a genetically verified sequence variant in the OPA1 gene were examined with best-corrected visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, optical coherence tomography (Spectralis, Heidelberg) and adaptive optics fundus photography (rtx1, Imagine Eyes). Optically empty microcystoid spaces in the ganglion cell layer and inner plexiform layer were mapped by inspection of the 2 sets of images. Data were analyzed with a mixed model adjusted for age and sex with family and individual as random effect.
RESULTS: Microcystoid lacunae were present in 32 of 140 participants (23%) including 18 males and 14 females. Microcystoid lacunae were associated with younger age ( P = 0.0503) and a smaller nerve fiber layer volume ( P = 0.035). No association was found between presence of microcystoid lacunae and visual acuity ( P = 0.2), contrast sensitivity ( P = 0.8), axial length ( P = 0.7), or ganglion cell layer volume ( P = 0.2). The analysis showed moderately reduced visual acuity in patients with microcystoid lacunae. Normal and severely impaired visual function were seen only in participants without microcystoid lacunae.
CONCLUSION: In ADOA, macular microcystoid lacunae were found in 23% of the study participants and tended to be present in younger participants with moderate visual acuity reduction and a smaller nerve fiber layer volume. Further studies are needed to investigate whether cavities left by dead ganglion cells are predictors of decrease in visual function.