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Purpose:To describe foveal sparing (FS) in central retinal dystrophies (RD). Methods:Participants for this retrospective study were identified from the retinal dystrophy database of the Department of Ophthalmology at Radboud University Medical Center. FS was defined as an intact foveal structure surrounded by at least 180° of chorioretinal atrophy, and a best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) of <1.0 logMAR (>20/200 Snellen). Eligible eyes were identified using fundus autofluorescence (FAF) images, and FS was confirmed using near-infrared reflectance (NIR) imaging and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography when available. Clinical and demographic data were extracted from medical records. We performed quantification of FS and chorioretinal atrophic areas using semiautomated software on fundus autofluorescence and NIR images. We calculated the chronologic change using eye-wise linear regression. Results:We identified 36 patients (56 eyes) with FS. RDs included: Stargardt disease (STGD1;20 patients), central areolar choroidal dystrophy (CACD; 7 patients), mitochondrial retinal dystrophy (MRD; 6 patients), pseudo-Stargardt pattern dystrophy (PSPD; 3 patients). Median age at first presentation was 60 (interquartile range [IQR] 54-63) years. Median BCVA at first presentation ranged from 20/25 Snellen in STGD1, to 20/38 Snellen in MRD. Progression of the chorioretinal atrophic area ranged from 0.26 (0.25-0.28) mm/year in PSPD, to 0.14 (0.11-0.22) in CACD. Change in FS area over time was similar between the different dystrophies. Conclusions:The presence of FS in different RDs suggests a disease-independent mechanism that prolongs the survival of the fovea. The associated preservation of BCVA is important for the individual prognosis and has implications for the design of therapeutic trials for RDs.

Original publication




Journal article


Investigative ophthalmology & visual science

Publication Date





3456 - 3467


Department of Ophthalmology, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Foveal Sparing Atrophy Study Team (FAST), Fovea Centralis, Humans, Disease Progression, Tomography, Optical Coherence, Fluorescein Angiography, Electroretinography, Retrospective Studies, Visual Acuity, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Retinal Dystrophies