Objective: To examine the role, validity, and interpretation of Watzke-Allen slit beam testing in patients with idiopathic senile macular holes.
Methods: Thirty-seven consecutive patients with 40 full-thickness macular holes, confirmed on optical coherence tomography, were prospectively recruited. The Watzke-Allen slit beam test was used centrally and on the rim of the macular hole in both vertical and horizontal orientations.
Results: In 24 eyes, the beam was reported as thinned in both vertical and horizontal orientations when placed directly over the center of the macular hole. In 9 eyes, the Watzke-Allen slit was reported as broken in both vertical and horizontal orientations. In 6 eyes, the beam was reported as broken in one orientation and thinned in the other. In 1 eye, the beam was reported as kinked but not thinned or broken. When the beam was placed on the edge of the macular hole, all patients reported a displacement or bowing of the beam away from the center of the hole.
Conclusions: These findings confirm tangential traction of photoreceptors from a central foveal dehiscence as the causative mechanism in the development of the majority of macular holes. Careful interpretation of the Watzke-Allen sign may offer a technique for preoperatively determining visual prognosis. Arch Ophthalmol. 2000;118:1059-1063