Purpose To evaluate the progression of early age-related macular degeneration to neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), and identify the abnormal fundus autofluorescence (FAF) patterns and markers of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in fellow eyes of patients with unilateral nAMD. Methods Sixty-six patients with unilateral nAMD who developed abnormal FAF in the fellow eyes were enrolled in this multicenter, prospective, observational study, and followed-up for 5 years. FAF images on Heidelberg Retina Angiogram Digital Angiography System (HRA) or HRA2 were classified into eight patterns based on the International Fundus Autofluorescence Classification Group system. The patients in which the fellow eyes progressed to advanced nAMD, including those who did not develop nAMD, were assessed based on the following factors: baseline FAF patterns, age, sex, visual acuity, drusen, retinal pigmentation, baseline retinal sensitivity, family history, smoking, supplement intake, hypertension, body mass index, and hematological parameters. Results Of the 66 patients, 20 dropped out of the study. Of the remaining 46 patients, 14 (30.42%, male: 9, female: 5) progressed to nAMD during the 5-year follow-up. The most common (50% eyes) FAF pattern in the fellow eyes was the patchy pattern. According to the univariate analysis, CNV development was significantly associated with age, supplement intake, and low-density lipoprotein levels (p<0.05). Multivariable analysis revealed that patients who showed non-compliance with the supplement intake were more likely to develop nAMD (p<0.05). No significant association was found between the patchy pattern and CNV development (p = 0.86). Conclusion The fellow eyes (with abnormal FAF) of patients with unilateral nAMD may progress from early to advanced nAMD. However, no FAF pattern was found that predicted progression in nAMD.
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