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Objective To provide a detailed phenotype/genotype characterization of Bietti crystalline dystrophy (BCD). Design Observational case series. Participants Twenty patients from 17 families recruited from a multiethnic British population. Methods Patients underwent color fundus photography, near-infrared (NIR) imaging, fundus autofluorescence (FAF) imaging, spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), and electroretinogram (ERG) assessment. The gene CYP4V2 was sequenced. Main Outcome Measures Clinical, imaging, electrophysiologic, and molecular genetics findings. Results Patients ranged in age from 19 to 72 years (median, 40 years), with a visual acuity of 6/5 to perception of light (median, 6/12). There was wide intrafamilial and interfamilial variability in clinical severity. The FAF imaging showed well-defined areas of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) loss that corresponded on SD-OCT to well-demarcated areas of outer retinal atrophy. Retinal crystals were not evident on FAF imaging and were best visualized with NIR imaging. Spectral domain OCT showed them to be principally located on or in the RPE/Bruch's membrane complex. Disappearance of the crystals, revealed by serial recording, was associated with severe disruption and thinning of the RPE/Bruch's membrane complex. Cases with extensive RPE degeneration (N = 5) had ERGs consistent with generalized rod and cone dysfunction, but those with more focal RPE atrophy showed amplitude reduction without delay (N = 3), consistent with restricted loss of function, or that was normal (N = 2). Likely disease-causing variants were identified in 34 chromosomes from 17 families. Seven were novel, including p.Met66Arg, found in all 11 patients from 8 families of South Asian descent. This mutation appears to be associated with earlier onset (median age, 30 years) compared with other substitutions (median age, 41 years). Deletions of exon 7 were associated with more severe disease. Conclusions The phenotype is highly variable. Several novel variants are reported, including a highly prevalent substitution in patients of South Asian descent that is associated with earlier-onset disease. Autofluorescence showed sharply demarcated areas of RPE loss that coincided with abrupt edges of outer retinal atrophy on SD-OCT; crystals were generally situated on or in the RPE/Bruch's complex but could disappear over time with associated RPE disruption. These results support a role for the RPE in disease pathogenesis. © 2014 by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1174 - 1184