Paracentral acute middle maculopathy and the organization of the retinal capillary plexuses

Jackson Scharf, K. Bailey Freund, Srini Vas Sadda, David Sarraf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The retinal capillary vasculature serves the formidable role of supplying the metabolically active inner and middle retina. In the parafoveal region, the retinal capillary plexuses (RCP) are organized in a system of three capillary layers of varying retinal depths: the superficial capillary plexus (SCP), intermediate capillary plexus (ICP) and deep capillary plexus (DCP). While the dynamic flow through these plexuses is complex and not completely understood, current research points to a hybrid model that includes both parallel and in series components in which blood flows in a predominantly serial direction between the superficial vascular complex (SVC) and deep vascular complex (DVC). Each capillary plexus autoregulates independently, so that under most conditions the retinal vasculature supplies adequate blood flow and oxygen saturation at varying depths despite diverse environmental stressors. When the flow in the deep vascular complex (i.e. ICP and DCP) fails, an ischemic lesion referred to as Paracentral Acute Middle Maculopathy (PAMM) can be identified. PAMM is an optical coherence tomography (OCT) finding defined by the presence of a hyperreflective band at the level of the inner nuclear layer (INL) that indicates INL infarction caused by globally impaired perfusion through the retinal capillary system leading to hypoperfusion of the DVC or specifically the DCP. Patients present with an acute onset paracentral scotoma and typically experience a permanent visual defect. Lesions can be caused by a diverse set of local retinal vascular diseases and systemic disorders. PAMM is a manifestation of the retinal ischemic cascade in which the mildest forms of ischemia develop at the venular end of the DCP, i.e. perivenular PAMM, while more severe forms progress horizontally to diffusely involve the INL, and the most severe forms progress vertically to infarct the inner retina. Management is targeted toward the identification and treatment of related vasculopathic and systemic risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100884
JournalProgress in Retinal and Eye Research
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • PAMM
  • Paracentral acute middle maculopathy
  • Retinal capillary plexus
  • Retinal ischemic cascade
  • Retinal vascular occlusion
  • Retinal vasculature


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