1 October 2018
To characterize sources of inter- and intrasubject variability in quantitative foveal avascular zone (FAZ) metrics.
Two 3×3-mm optical coherence tomography angiography scans (centered on the fovea) were acquired in both eyes of 175 subjects. An image of the superficial plexus was extracted from each scan and segmented twice by a single observer. Four quantitative FAZ morphology metrics (area, axis ratio, acircularity, major horizontal axis angle) were calculated, and a variance components analysis was performed.
Mean (±SD) age was 27.9 ± 11.9 years, and 55% were female. Area had the largest amount of variance resulting from intersubject differences (93.1%). In contrast, there was large interocular variance for axis ratio, acircularity, and major horizontal axis angle (55.0%, 53.7%, 70.7%, respectively), though only axis ratio showed significant asymmetry between fellow eyes ( P < 0.05). Neither repeated images from the same eye nor repeated segmentation on the same image were significant sources of variance.
Metrics of FAZ morphology show excellent repeatability and reliability. Excluding FAZ area, there was a high amount of variance attributed to interocular differences for the other FAZ metrics; therefore, the fellow eye should not be considered a control for FAZ studies when using these metrics.
Vision scientists must be prudent when choosing FAZ metrics, as they display varying degrees of within-subject differences relative to between-subject differences. It seems likely that different metrics will be best suited for different tasks, such as monitoring small changes over time within a single subject or assessing whether a given FAZ is abnormal.