Macular hole surgery with and without internal limiting membrane peeling

Ophthalmology. 2000 Oct;107(10):1939-48; discussion 1948-9. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(00)00331-6.


Objective: To compare results of surgery for idiopathic macular hole with and without internal limiting membrane (ILM) peeling in a series of consecutive patients over a 5-year period.

Design: A retrospective, nonrandomized, comparative trial with concurrent control group.

Participants: Forty-four eyes with macular holes of less than or equal to 6 months duration without ILM peeling were compared to 116 eyes with ILM peeling and the same hole duration. A third group of 65 eyes with ILM peeling and duration greater than 6 months was also evaluated.

Intervention: All eyes underwent pars plana vitrectomy with or without ILM peeling, intravitreous gas, and positioning face down. No adjunctive therapies were used in any group.

Main outcome measures: Comparing the closure and/or reopening rate, prognosis, visual acuity, and complications for macular holes with and without ILM peeling.

Results: All patients had postsurgical follow-up of 18 months or greater. Primary closure was significantly improved with ILM peeling with 116 of 116 eyes (100%) showing no reopenings versus 36 of 44 holes (82%) primarily closed, 9 of which (25%) reopened without ILM peeling (P: < 0.00001) in holes less than or equal to 6 months. The 27 eyes without ILM peeling that had successful surgery displayed a mean postoperative vision of 20/40, which is the same as the successful eyes with ILM peeling (P: = 0.6). The 52 stage II eyes with ILM peeling had a mean postoperative vision of 20/30, and 48 of the 52 eyes (92%) were 20/40 or better. Stage III eyes (greater than 400-microm holes) without ILM peeling had a poor prognosis, with 6 of the 25 eyes (24%) having initial surgery fail and an additional 4 of 25 eyes (16%) reopening. Without ILM peeling, holes less than 300 microm had only one reopen, whereas holes greater than or equal to 300 microm had 16 of the 17 (94%) primary failures and/or reopenings (P: < 0.001). All 12 holes that reopened and/or primarily failed were repaired with ILM peeling with excellent visual recovery. Macular holes with a duration greater than 6 months were treated with ILM peeling, and 63 of 65 holes (97%) were closed primarily and 65% had an increase in vision by two or more Snellen lines.

Conclusions: ILM peeling significantly improves visual and anatomic success in all stages of recent and chronic macular holes and reopened and failed holes, while eliminating reopening for holes greater than 300 microm.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Basement Membrane / surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Epiretinal Membrane / physiopathology
  • Epiretinal Membrane / surgery*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / therapeutic use*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laser Coagulation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prone Position
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Retinal Perforations / physiopathology
  • Retinal Perforations / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride / therapeutic use*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Vitrectomy*


  • Fluorocarbons
  • perflutren
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride