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The accuracy of fundus autofluorescence imaging for diagnosing and monitoring retinal conditions: update of SHTAC systematic review published

Published: 30 March 2017
Laser eye scanner
Fundus autofluorescence imaging is a relatively new method for detecting changes in the eye

SHTAC has updated a systematic review, first published in May 2016, which investigated the accuracy of fundus autofluorescence imaging for diagnosing or monitoring retinal conditions. The updated review has been published in the Eye journal.

Fundus autofluorescence imaging is a relatively new method for detecting changes in the eye which could signal disease of the retina. A highly sensitive microscope (called a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope) is used to closely examine the natural ‘background glow’, known as autofluorescence, which occurs within the eye. Detection of increased or decreased autofluorescence compared to that seen in healthy eyes is potentially a sensitive way of diagnosing or monitoring the progress of a wide range of retinal conditions (including, among others, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and various inherited retinal diseases).

The original SHTAC systematic review found that there is considerable interest in fundus autofluorescence imaging, with many research studies of the method having being published in the scientific literature for a wide range of retinal conditions. However, only eight studies had tested the quantitative accuracy of the method (i.e. its sensitivity and specificity) for detecting retinal conditions. The review update identified a further four relevant studies, but all 12 studies were found to suffer from limitations, casting doubt on whether their results would reflect the accuracy of fundus autofluorescence imaging when used in clinical practice. The new SHTAC publication in the Eye journal provides recommendations to address these limitations.

For more information on SHTAC’s research into eye diseases please visit our pages on eye diseases and diagnostic technologies.

 

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