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Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is becoming one of the most important modalities for the noninvasive assessment of retinal eye diseases. As the number of acquired OCT volumes increases, automating the OCT image analysis is becoming increasingly relevant. In this paper, a method for automated characterization of the normal macular appearance in spectral domain OCT (SD-OCT) volumes is reported together with a general approach for local retinal abnormality detection. Ten intraretinal layers are first automatically segmented and the 3-D image dataset flattened to remove motion-based artifacts. From the flattened OCT data, 23 features are extracted in each layer locally to characterize texture and thickness properties across the macula. The normal ranges of layer-specific feature variations have been derived from 13 SD-OCT volumes depicting normal retinas. Abnormalities are then detected by classifying the local differences between the normal appearance and the retinal measures in question. This approach was applied to determine footprints of fluid-filled regions-SEADs (Symptomatic Exudate-Associated Derangements)-in 78 SD-OCT volumes from 23 repeatedly imaged patients with choroidal neovascularization (CNV), intra-, and sub-retinal fluid and pigment epithelial detachment. The automated SEAD footprint detection method was validated against an independent standard obtained using an interactive 3-D SEAD segmentation approach. An area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve of 0.961 ? 0.012 was obtained for the classification of vertical, cross-layer, macular columns. A study performed on 12 pairs of OCT volumes obtained from the same eye on the same day shows that the repeatability of the automated method is comparable to that of the human experts. This work demonstrates that useful 3-D textural information can be extracted from SD-OCT scans and-together with an anatomical atlas of normal retinas-can be used for clinically important applications.