Objective: This pilot study collected preliminary information on the effectiveness and safety of infrared (810-nm) diode laser macular grid photocoagulation in patients with nonexudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Results from this pilot study were used in designing a larger, multicenter, randomized clinical trial.
Design: A multicenter, randomized, controlled, clinical trial.
Participants: A total of 229 eyes of 152 patients with AMD were enrolled in the pilot study. Seventy-five patients with 1 eye eligible (75 eyes) were enrolled in the unilateral arm of the study; 77 patients with both eyes eligible (154 eyes) were enrolled in the bilateral arm of the study. In the unilateral study arm, 32 eyes were randomized to the observation group, 27 eyes were treated with visible endpoint burns, and 16 eyes were treated with invisible endpoint (subthreshold) lesions. In the bilateral study arm, 77 eyes were in the observation group, 36 eyes were treated with visible burns, and 41 eyes were treated with subthreshold (invisible) lesions.
Intervention: Eyes were treated with infrared (810-nm) diode laser macular grid photocoagulation using either visible burns or subthreshold (invisible) lesions and compared to eyes receiving no treatment.
Main outcome measures: Reduction of drusen, change in visual acuity, and rate of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) membrane formation.
Results: At 12 months after treatment, 62% of eyes treated with visible burns had a clinically significant reduction in drusen, whereas this proportion (65%) was reached in 18 months for eyes treated with subthreshold lesions. At 24 months' follow-up, treated eyes had a significant reduction in drusen compared to observation eyes (P < 0.0001). Visual acuity was significantly improved in treated eyes at 12, 18, and 24 months compared to observation eyes (P < 0.001). Choroidal neovascularization formation was similar in treated and observation eyes through 24 months' follow-up. Complications included CNV associated with six eyes treated with visible burns and a juxtafoveal laser scar in one eye treated with visible burns.
Conclusions: Infrared (810-nm) diode laser macular grid photocoagulation in patients with nonexudative AMD significantly reduces drusen levels (P < 0.0001) and significantly improves visual acuity (P < 0.001) when either visible endpoint burns or subthreshold endpoint lesions are used. Complications were fewer using subthreshold endpoint lesions. A larger, multicenter, prospective clinical trial with longer follow-up is needed to determine the efficacy of treatment in reducing the rate of CNV formation. Data from this clinical pilot study have been used to design the Prophylactic Treatment of AMD Trial (PTAMD), a multicenter, randomized, prospective clinical trial currently in progress comparing subthreshold (invisible) treatment to observation in eyes with nonexudative AMD.