Variability in Human Cone Topography Assessed by Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopy

Academic Article


  • Purpose To assess between- and within-individual variability of macular cone topography in the eyes of young adults. Design Observational case series. Methods Cone photoreceptors in 40 eyes of 20 subjects aged 19-29 years with normal maculae were imaged using a research adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope. Refractive errors ranged from -3.0 diopters (D) to 0.63 D and differed by <0.50 D in fellow eyes. Cone density was assessed on a 2-dimensional sampling grid over the central 2.4 mm × 2.4 mm. Between-individual variability was evaluated by coefficient of variation (COV). Within-individual variability was quantified by maximum difference and root mean square (RMS). Cones were cumulated over increasing eccentricity. Results Peak densities of foveal cones are 168 162 ± 23 529 cones/mm2 (mean ± SD) (COV = 0.14). The number of cones within the cone-dominated foveola (0.8-0.9 mm diameter) is 38 311 ± 2319 (COV = 0.06). The RMS cone density difference between fellow eyes is 6.78%, and the maximum difference is 23.6%. Mixed-model statistical analysis found no difference in the association between eccentricity and cone density in the superior/nasal (P =.8503), superior/temporal (P =.1551), inferior/nasal (P =.8609), and inferior/temporal (P =.6662) quadrants of fellow eyes. Conclusions New instrumentation imaged the smallest foveal cones, thus allowing accurate assignment of foveal centers and assessment of variability in macular cone density in a large sample of eyes. Though cone densities vary significantly in the fovea, the total numbers of foveolar cones are very similar both between and within subjects. Thus, the total number of foveolar cones may be an important measure of cone degeneration and loss.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zhang T; Godara P; Blanco ER; Griffin RL; Wang X; Curcio CA; Zhang Y
  • Start Page

  • 290
  • End Page

  • 300.e1
  • Volume

  • 160
  • Issue

  • 2