The Fovea in Retinopathy of Prematurity


Akula JD, Arellano IA, Swanson EA, Favazza TL, Bowe TS, Munro RJ, Ferguson DR, Hansen RM, Moskowitz A, Fulton AB. The Fovea in Retinopathy of Prematurity. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2020;61(11):28.

Date Published:

2020 Sep 01


Purpose: Because preterm birth and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) are associated with poor visual acuity (VA) and altered foveal development, we evaluated relationships among the central retinal photoreceptors, postreceptor retinal neurons, overlying fovea, and VA in ROP. Methods: We obtained optical coherence tomograms (OCTs) in preterm born subjects with no history of ROP (none; n = 61), ROP that resolved spontaneously without treatment (mild; n = 51), and ROP that required treatment by laser ablation of the avascular peripheral retina (severe; n = 22), as well as in term born control subjects (term; n = 111). We obtained foveal shape descriptors, measured central retinal layer thicknesses, and demarcated the anatomic parafovea using automated routines. In subsets of these subjects, we obtained OCTs eccentrically through the pupil (n = 46) to reveal the fiber layer of Henle (FLH) and obtained adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmograms (AO-SLOs) of the parafoveal cones (n = 34) and measured their spacing and distribution. Results: Both VA and foveal depth decreased with increasing ROP severity (term, none, mild, severe). In severe subjects, foveae were broader than normal and the parafovea was significantly enlarged compared to every other group. The FLH was thinner than normal in mild (but not severe) subjects. VA was associated with foveal depth more than group. Density of parafoveal cones did not differ significantly among groups. Conclusions: Foveal structure is associated with loss of VA in ROP. The preserved FLH in severe (relative to mild) eyes suggests treatment may help cone axon development. The significantly larger parafovea and increased outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness in ROP hint that some developmental process affecting the photoreceptors is not arrested in ROP but rather is supranormal.

Last updated on 09/30/2020