Postnatal maturation of the fovea inMacaca mulattausing optical coherence tomography

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Abstract

Changes in the foveal anatomy during infancy are an important component in early development of spatial vision. The present longitudinal study in rhesus monkeys was undertaken to characterize the postnatal maturation of the fovea. Starting at four weeks after birth, the retinas of the left eyes of sixteen infant monkeys were imaged using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD OCT). Retinal scans were repeated every 30 days during the first year of life and every 60 days thereafter. Volume scans through the fovea were registered, scaled using a three surface schematic eye, and analyzed to measure foveal pit parameters. The individual layers of the retina were manually segmented and thicknesses were measured over a transverse distance of 1250 microns from the center of the foveal pit. Based on infrared scanning laser ophthalmoscope (IR SLO) images acquired with the SD OCT system, there were significant changes in the extent of the retina scanned as the eyes matured. Using a three-surface schematic eye, the length of each scan could be computed and was validated using image registration (R2 = 0.88, slope = 1.003, p < 0.05). Over the first 18 months of life, the mean retinal thickness at the pit center had increased by 21.4% with a corresponding 20.3% decrease in pit depth. The major changes occurred within the first 120 days, but did not stabilize until a year after birth. In Macaca mulatta infants, the primary anatomical maturation of the fovea occurs within the first few months of life, as determined by longitudinal data from SD OCT measurements. The timelines for maturation of the fovea correspond well with the normal development of the lateral geniculate nucleus, cortical neurophysiology, and spatial resolution in monkeys.

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