University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Grouped congenital albinotic spots of the retinal pigmented epithelium (polar bear tracks)

Contributor: Jesse Vislisel, MD

Photographer: Brice Critser, CRA

Congenital albinotic spots of the retinal pigmented epithelium (CASRPE) can be configured in solitary or grouped configurations. Groups of the spots, as seen here, are commonly referred to as "polar bear tracks" due to their color and resemblance of animal footprints. It is believed that these spots may develop secondary to deposition of an abnormal white material in retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells rather than the usual darkly pigmented melanin. The lesions are flat, sharply circumscribed, placoid, chalky white, and lie at the level of the RPE. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) demonstrates a disruption of the highly-reflective signal from the ellipsoid zone in the region of the lesions, as indicated by the orange line on the scan.

"Polar Bear Tracks" peripheral fundus photo
"polar bear tracks" photo montage to show peripheral retina in context
OCT of the above area


  1. Gass JD. Focal congenital anomalies of the retinal pigment epithelium. Eye (1989) 3;1-18.
  2. Kim DY, Hwang JC, Moore AT, Bird AC, Tsang SH. Fundus Autofluorescence and Optical Coherence Tomography of Congenital Grouped Albinotic Spots. Retina. Sep 2010; 30(8): 1217–1222.

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last updated: 07/03/2014
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