Purpose Abnormal fundus autofluorescence (FAF) potentially precedes onset of late age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in Caucasian patients. Many differences exist between Asian and Caucasian patients regarding AMD types and severity, gender, and genetic backgrounds. We investigated the characteristics of abnormal FAF and retinal sensitivity in the fellow eyes of Japanese patients with unilateral neovascular AMD. Methods Sixty-six patients with unilateral neovascular AMD and abnormal FAF in the fellow eye were enrolled in this multicenter, prospective, observational study. The best-corrected visual acuity, fundus photographs, FAF images, and retinal sensitivity on microperimetry were measured periodically for 12 months. The FAF images were classified into eight patterns based on the International Fundus Autofluorescence Classification Group. The points measured by microperimetry were superimposed onto the FAF images and fundus photographs and classified as "within," "close," and "distant," based on the distance from the abnormal FAF and other findings. The relationship between the location of the baseline abnormal FAF and retinal sensitivity was investigated. Results In Japanese patients, patchy (33.3%) and focally increased (30.3%) patterns predominated in the abnormal FAF. Intermediate-to-large drusen was associated predominantly with hyperfluorescence and hypofluorescence. Neovascular AMD developed within 1 year in six (9.1%) eyes, the mean baseline retinal sensitivity of which was 12.8 ± 4.7 dB, significantly (p<0.002) lower than the other eyes. In 44 of the other 60 eyes, microperimetry was measurable at baseline and month 12 and the mean retinal sensitivity improved significantly from 13.5 ± 4.4 to 13.9 ± 4.8 dB (p<0.001), possibly associated with lifestyle changes (e.g., smoking cessation, antioxidant and zinc supplementation). The mean retinal sensitivities of points within and close to the abnormal FAF were 9.9 and 11.7 dB, respectively, which were significantly lower than the 14.0 dB of the points distant from the abnormal FAF. Conclusion In Japanese patients, patchy and focally increased patterns predominated in the abnormal FAF. The retinal sensitivity was lower close to/within the abnormal FAF. FAF and microperimetry are useful to assess macular function before development of neovascular AMD or geographic atrophy.
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