To investigate age-related lesions in the far-anterior retina that migrate from the ciliary body (CB) and how they affect the neural retina and retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE).
One eye from three healthy subjects aged 87, 92 and 93 years were used. Retinae were photographed, embedded in resin and then sectioned at 2 μm.
Multiple elliptically shaped lesions were present in the CB. Larger lesions extended into the peripheral retina. Lesions resulted from deposits that had lenticular qualities. These develop centrally along Bruch's membrane sweeping away the RPE, such that piles of RPE cells were present around the deposits that resulted in retinal atrophy. The internal composition of the deposits revealed large numbers of spherical bodies, unlike those seen in drusen. RPE cells adjacent to these deposits and their underlying lesions became highly irregular, with melanin granules spacing themselves out within the cell and adopting similar orientations. This is a highly distinctive feature.
These far-anterior deposits were different in nature from drusen in terms of morphology, composition and origin. They swept away the RPE, exposing the Bruch's membrane and isolating the retina, leading to atrophy. They appeared to originate from the CB and progressed centrally. The deposits may have developed from the ciliary muscle, which would account for their elongated orientation. Their impact on melanin distribution in RPE cells was unexpected and unusual, implying that they release a signal that influences melanin organisation.