Autofluorescene is based on the fact retinal photoreceptors contain molecules that detect light. Furthermore, the outer damaged part of the photoreceptors is ejected through the phagocytosis of the retinal pigment epithelium cells.
The phagocytosis products are accumulated in the liposomes called lipofuscin. Lipofuscin can fluoresce when activated by light with a wavelength ranging from 500 to 800 nm. After its activation, lipofuscin delivers light at a greater wavelength, which can be recorded using various techniques. If too much lipofuscin is present, the area shows signs of hyperfluorescence. In the areas where the pigment epithelium is destroyed, there is hypofluorescence.
Over time and due to various pathological conditions, fundus autofluorescene is increased and is added to the autofluorescene caused by lipofuscin. Activation of fundus fluorescence can take place under green or blue light.
The most common diseases in which autofluorescene is used are: Age-related macular degeneration, retinal dystrophies, central serous chorioretinopathy.
During autofluorescence, images of the fundus are taken, while the pupil is dilated and usually before fluorescein angiography.
Consequently, autofluorescence is a supplemental additional examination that helps in the diagnosis and monitoring of various conditions of the fundus.