As baby boomers age, clinicians need to be comfortable with diagnosing common macular conditions and interpreting optical coherence tomography (OCT) findings. OCT is a diagnostic imaging technique that allows for the qualitative (morphology and reflectivity) and quantitative (thickness, mapping, and volume) analysis of the retinal landscape.1
Patients will rely on you to effectively manage their conditions through diagnosis and interpretation as well as to refer them to a retinal specialist when needed.
The following are the most common macular conditions and their supporting OCT findings.
Dry age-related macular degeneration
Dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) begins with characteristic yellow deposits of extracellular material (drusen) in the macula between the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the underlying choroid. Most people with these early changes still have good vision.
People with drusen may or may not develop AMD. Many people over age 55 have drusen with no negative effects. The risk of developing symptoms is higher when the drusen are large, numerous, and associated with disturbances in the RPE layer. Large and soft drusen are thought to be related to elevated cholesterol deposits.
Although advanced age and family history are the primary risk factors, other factors include:
• High cholesterol
• Fat intake
• Abdominal obesity
• Ultraviolet light exposure