Ethnic, intersubject, interoperator and intermachine differences in measured macular thickness seem to exist. Our purpose was to collect normative macular thickness data in Norwegians and to evaluate the association between macular thickness and age, gender, parity, and contraception status.
Retinal thickness was measured by Stratus Optical Coherence Tomography in healthy subjects. Mean macular thickness (MMT) was analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA with three dependent regional MMT-variables for interaction with age, gender, parity and oral contraception use. Exploratory correlation with age by the Pearson correlation test, both before and after stratification by gender was performed. Differences in MMT between older and younger subjects, between oral contraception users and non-users, as well as parous and nulliparous women were studied by post-hoc Student's t-tests.
Central MMT in Norwegians was similar to values earlier reported in whites. MMT in central areas of 1 and 2.25 mm in diameter were higher in males than in females. In younger subjects (≤43 years) differences in MMT between genders were larger than in the mixed age group, whereas in older subjects (>43 years) the small differences did not reach the set significance level. No differences were found in minimal foveolar thickness (MMFT) between the genders in any age group.
Mean foveal thickness (1 mm in diameter) was positively associated with age in females (r = 0.28, p = 0.03). MMFT was positively associated with age in all groups and reached significance both in females and in mixed gender group (r = 0.20, p = 0.041 and r = 0.26, p = 0.044 respectively).
Mean foveal thickness and MMFT were significantly higher in parous than in nulliparous women, and age-adjusted ANOVA for MMFT revealed a borderline effect of parity.
Age and gender should be taken into consideration when establishing normal ranges for MMT in younger subjects. The gender difference in retinal thickness in young, but not older adults suggests a gonadal hormonal influence. The possible association between parity and retinal structure and its clinical relevance, should be studied further.