Background: Given the aging of the population worldwide, to learn the underlying age-related biological phenomena is important to improve the understanding of the ageing process. Neurodegeneration is an age-associated progressive deterioration of the neuron. Retinal neurodegeneration during aging, such as the reduction in thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) measured by optical coherence tomography (OCT), has been reported, but no studies have provided their specific alteration patterns with age. Therefore, this study is to provide visualization of the evolution of various tomographic intraretinal layer thicknesses during aging and to document age-related changes in focal thickness. Methods: A total 194 healthy subjects were included in this cross-sectional study. The subjects were divided into four age groups: G1, <35 years; G2, 35-49 years; G3, 50-64 years; and G4 ≥65 years. One eye of each subject was imaged using a custom-built ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography (UHR-OCT). Volumetric data centered on the fovea were segmented to obtain the thickness maps of six intraretinal layers, including the macular retinal nerve fiber layer (mRNFL) and GCIPL. Results: There were alterations visualized in thickness maps in these intraretinal layers. The GCIPL showed a thickness reduction localized in the inner annulus in elder subjects (G4). Within the inner annulus, the most profound alteration in G4, an oval zone (length 0.76 mm and width 0.52 mm), appeared to be in the inferior sector about 0.61 mm below the fovea, named "A zone". The average thickness reduction of the A zone was 14.4 μm in the elderly group (G4). Age was significantly related to the GCIPL thickness of the inner annulus (ρ =-0.48; P<0.001) and of the A zone (ρ =-0.39, P<0.001). Conclusions: This is the first study to apply UHR-OCT for visualizing the age-related alteration of intraretinal layers in a general population. The most profound change of the optic nerve fiber is an oval-like focal thinning in GCIPL, which occurred in the inferior sector within the inner annulus and was strongly related to increased age.
- focal thinning
- ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL)
- ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography (UHR-OCT)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging