PURPOSE: To identify and quantitate specific changes in optical coherence tomography (OCT) images of patients with type 2 idiopathic perifoveal telangiectasia (IPT). METHODS: In a prospectively designed, observational, case-control study, 28 eyes of 14 consecutive patients with IPT were examined with OCT and compared with eyes of 14 unaffected control subjects. Light reflectivity profiles of raw scan data of OCT images were quantitatively analyzed for differences in distance between different retinal reflectivity layers and their respective reflectivities. Maculae were examined in four separate regions: (1) central fovea, (2) nasal perifovea, (3) temporal perifovea, and (4) outside the fovea. RESULTS: Retinal thinning, shortening of the photoreceptor outer segments and loss of reflectivity of the photoreceptor ellipsoid region were found in the central foveal region as well as the nasal and temporal perifoveal regions in eyes with IPT. In addition, increased reflectivity of the outer nuclear layer was found in a sharply demarcated area of the inferotemporal perifoveal region in all affected eyes. Retinal tissue located more than 2000 mum away from the foveola was indistinguishable from that in normal eyes. CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative OCT analysis shows unique and specific changes in the photoreceptors of the central macula in IPT which can be detected from first clinical presentation. These changes may be of use as an additional diagnostic tool. Correlation of the findings in the outer nuclear layer with histologic studies may help identify the nature of the reflectivity increase and define more clearly the type of damage sustained by the photoreceptors in this condition.