Am J Ophthalmol
PURPOSE: To describe the microscopic structure of photoreceptors impacted by subretinal drusenoid deposits, also called pseudodrusen, an extracellular lesion associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), using adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO). DESIGN: Observational case series. METHODS: We recruited 53 patients with AMD and 10 age-similar subjects who had normal retinal health. All subjects underwent color fundus photography, infrared reflectance, red-free reflectance, autofluorescence, and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT). Subretinal drusenoid deposits were classified by a 3-stage OCT-based grading system. Lesions and surrounding photoreceptors were examined by AOSLO. RESULTS: Subretinal drusenoid deposits were found in 26 eyes of 13 patients with AMD and imaged by AOSLO and spectral-domain OCT in 18 eyes (n = 342 lesions). Spectral-domain OCT showed subretinal drusenoid deposits as highly reflective material accumulated internal to the retinal pigment epithelium. AOSLO revealed that photoreceptor reflectivity was qualitatively reduced by stage 1 subretinal drusenoid deposits and was greatly reduced by stage 2. AOSLO presented a distinct structure in stage 3, a hyporeflective annulus consisting of deflected, degenerated or absent photoreceptors. A central core with a reflectivity superficially resembling photoreceptors is formed by the lesion material itself. A hyporeflective gap in the photoreceptor ellipsoid zone on either side of this core shown in spectral-domain OCT corresponded to the hyporeflective annulus seen by AOSLO. CONCLUSIONS: AOSLO and multimodal imaging of subretinal drusenoid deposits indicate solid, space-filling lesions in the subretinal space. Associated retinal reflectivity changes are related to lesion stages and are consistent with perturbations to photoreceptors, as suggested by histology.