Objective: To describe the relationship of laser-induced drusen reduction to change in visual function at 1 year among patients enrolled in the Choroidal Neovascularization Prevention Trial (CNVPT).
Design: Comparison of groups with and without drusen reduction; follow-up of a randomized controlled trial.
Participants: Evaluations of drusen and visual acuity at baseline and at 1 year were performed for 351 eyes of the 432 eyes enrolled in the CNVPT Bilateral Drusen Study and Fellow Eye Study (81%). One hundred eighty-four eyes were assigned to observation, and 167 eyes were assigned to laser treatment. Eyes with conditions that precluded an analysis of drusen reduction, such as those that developed choroidal neovascularization (CNV) within the first year, are excluded from this analysis.
Methods: Change in macular drusen between initial visit and after 1 year was assessed by side-by-side grading by evaluators masked to information on visual function. Visual acuity, contrast threshold, and critical print size were measured by certified visual function examiners.
Main outcome measures: Change in visual acuity is the primary outcome. Change in contrast threshold and change in critical print size are secondary outcome measures.
Results: Laser-treated eyes with 50% or more drusen reduction at 1 year had more 1- and 2-line increases in visual acuity and less losses in visual acuity compared with laser-treated eyes with less drusen reduction or with observed eyes (P = 0.001). Similar improvements were noted for contrast threshold but not critical print size at 1 year.
Conclusions: Laser-induced drusen reduction is associated with improved visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in eyes at 1 year. Longer term effects of laser-induced drusen reduction on visual function require additional observation. The overall potential value of laser treatment in eyes with high-risk drusen requires consideration of not only short-term effects on vision but also the effects of CNV and atrophy on vision.