Researchers in France have determined that SD-OCT examinations for epiretinal membranes (ERM) are feasible in an elderly population. Their study determined that the modality was more sensitive in ERM detection than standard 45° retinal color photographs, especially when detecting them in the early stages.

Out of 624 participants who were at least 75 years old and underwent both fundus imaging and SD‐OCT examinations, 610 (97.8%) subjects had gradable SD‐OCT examinations and 511 (81.9%) had gradable fundus images in at least one eye. Based on the fundus photographs, 11.6% of participants had definite ERMs. However, the SD‐OCT images revealed that 52.8% of the subjects had early ERMs (stage 1), 7.4% had mature ERMs without foveal involvement (stage 2) and 9.7% had mature ERMs with foveal alterations (stage 3).

Regardless of the imaging method used, the researchers discovered ERMs more often in pseudophakic eyes than in phakic eyes. While the specificity of the retinal images was good with respect to the SD-OCT findings (>89.3%), their sensitivity remained low, especially for early ERMs and in phakic eyes.

Using SD-OCT allowed the researchers to detect, on the B-scans, the precise foveal alterations that they could then use to differentiate between ERM stages 2 and 3. They concluded that their results further highlight the need to use SD‐OCT instead of color retinal photographs for ERM classification in epidemiological studies.

Delyfer MN, Legout P, Le Goff M, et al. Prevalence of epiretinal membranes in the ageing population using retinal colour images and SD-OCT: the Alienor Study. Acta Ophthalmol. April 17, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].