To determine the effects of age on global and sectoral peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL), macular thicknesses and optic nerve head (ONH) parameters in healthy subjects using optical coherence tomography (OCT).
Retrospective, cross-sectional observational study.
226 eyes from 124 healthy subjects were included.
Healthy subjects were scanned using the Fast RNFL, Fast Macula, and Fast ONH scan patterns on a Stratus OCT. All global and sectoral RNFL and macular parameters and global ONH parameters were modeled in terms of age using linear mixed effects models. Normalized slopes were also calculated by dividing the slopes by the mean value of the OCT parameter for inter-parameter comparison.
Main Outcome Measures
Slope of each OCT parameter across age.
All global and sectoral RNFL thickness parameters statistically significantly decreased with increasing age, except for the temporal quadrant and clock hours 8-10, which were not statistically different from a slope of zero. Highest absolute slopes were in the inferior and superior quadrant RNFL and clock hour 1 (superior nasal). Normalized slopes showed similar rate in all sectors except for the temporal clock hours (8-10). All macular thickness parameters statistically significantly decreased with increasing age, except for the central fovea sector, which had a slight positive slope that was not statistically significant. The nasal outer sector had the greatest absolute slope. Normalized macular slope in the outer ring was similar to the normalized slopes in the RNFL. Normalized inner ring had shallower slope than the outer ring with similar rate in all quadrants. Disc area remained nearly constant across the ages, but cup area increased and rim area decreased with age, both of which were statistically significant.
Global and regional changes due to the effects of age on RNFL, macula and ONH OCT measurements should be considered when assessing eyes over time.