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Original Investigation
November 21, 2018

Comparison of Optical Coherence Tomography With Fundus Photographs, Fluorescein Angiography, and Histopathologic Analysis in Assessing Coats Disease

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
  • 3Department of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
  • 4Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, California
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(2):176-183. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2018.5654
Key Points

Question  How is optical coherence tomography (OCT) useful in assessing Coats disease?

Findings  In this cohort study of 29 eyes from 28 children with Coats disease, the OCT analysis revealed the axial location of fluid, exudates, and atrophy that were not visible with photographs and fluorescein angiograms. Distinct OCT morphologies, when compared with histologic findings from biorepository eyes with Coats disease, were consistent with retinal anatomic changes and intraretinal and subretinal cells and depositions.

Meaning  Optical coherence tomography augments photographs and angiography to reveal transient and permanent effects of Coats disease on the retina, and these may be useful in monitoring disease activity and responses to therapy.


Importance  Coats disease is a rare pediatric vitreoretinopathy that can cause devastating visual and anatomic outcomes.

Objective  To compare optical coherence tomography (OCT) with fundus photographs, fluorescein angiography (FA), and histopathologic findings in Coats disease.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This retrospective cohort study was conducted in a single tertiary institution (Duke Eye Center) and identified 28 children with Coats disease through a review of medical records from December 2002 to January 2018. Four eyes were obtained from a biorepository for histopathologic analysis.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Macular OCT, fundus photographs, and FA results were reviewed and compared for morphological changes. These were compared with retinal histopathological findings.

Results  The mean (SD) age was 9.5 (5.5) years for the 28 children (and 29 eyes) with clinical imaging results, and 24 (86%) were boys. A comparison between imaging modalities revealed OCT features that were not visible in photographs or FA, including exudates in multiple retinal layers (23 [82.1%]), small pockets of subretinal fluid (4 [14.3%]), an outer retinal atrophy overlying fibrotic nodules (7 [25.0%]), and small preretinal hyperreflective OCT dots (25 [89.3%]). Next, a comparison with light micrographs introduced an association of OCT findings with possible pathological features, including hyperreflective linear structures on OCT that appeared consistent with cholesterol crystals, small hyperreflective dots with macrophages, outer retinal tubulations with rosettes, and analogous OCT histopathology features such as intraretinal vessels entering fibrotic nodules and retinal pigment epithelium excrescences under the subretinal fluid. An OCT analysis revealed intraretinal cystoid spaces in 19 eyes, but in 9 of 19 (47.4) this was not associated with cystoid macular leakage; rather, fluorescein leakage was observed from peripheral telangiectatic vessels. Additionally, exudates were intraretinal only (6 [21.4%]) or both intraretinal and subretinal (17 [60.7%]); none were subretinal only. In eyes with follow-up results, new fibrosis developed in 8 of 17 eyes (47.1%). Fibrosis developed in 5 of 5 eyes (100%) with baseline subretinal fluid vs 3 of 12 without (25%; 95% CI, 22%-92%) and in 7 of 9 eyes (77.8%) with subretinal exudates vs 1 of 8 (12.5%) without (95% CI, 16%-89%).

Conclusions and Relevance  Optical coherence tomography may show the transient and permanent effects of Coats disease on the retina. These results suggest that exudates and fluid in the macular subretinal space appear later in the disease and may result in fibrosis formation. Further studies are needed to confirm if early treatment could prevent vision-threatening macular fibrosis.