Purpose: To describe the indications, surgical technique, and clinical results of 14 eyes in 13 patients with age-related macular degeneration and foveal choroidal neovascularization, in which subretinal surgery was combined with simultaneous transplantation of autologous retinal pigment epithelial cells.
Methods: Between March 1999 and February 2000, in a prospective study, 14 eyes (13 patients) with age-related macular degeneration underwent subretinal surgery because of foveal choroidal neovascularization with simultaneous transplantation of retinal pigment epithelium harvested from the nasal subretinal area of the same eye. Preoperatively, 1 month postoperatively, 3 months postoperatively and at 3-month intervals thereafter, examinations were performed including best-corrected visual acuity, visual field, biomicroscopy of anterior and posterior segment, tonometry, fluorescein and indocyanine angiographies, autofluorescence, scotometry, and fixation tests.
Results: Postoperatively, after median observation of 17 months (range, 12 to 24 months) best-corrected visual acuity was improved 2 or more lines in eight eyes (57.1%), remained the same (+/- 1 line) in five eyes (35%), and decreased by more than 2 lines in one eye (7.1%). Pairwise t test showed significant improvement after 1 month (P = .0031, P = .0062) as well as 1 year (P = .0066, P = .0105). Satisfactory reading vision between Jaeger 1 and 4 was achieved in three eyes (21.2%). No significant intraoperative or postoperative complications occurred in any eye. No recurrence of choroidal neovascularization was observed during the observation period.
Conclusions: In eyes with age-related macular degeneration and foveal choroidal neovascularization, autotransplantation of retinal pigment epithelium was performed in addition to conventional removal of the choroidal neovascularization without significant intraoperative or postoperative complications. Visual acuity improvement of 2 or more lines in 57% of the eyes was achieved. No recurrent choroidal neovascularization formation was observed during the observation period. The results of this pilot study suggest that autologous transplantation of retinal pigment epithelium combined with submacular surgery might be a reasonable treatment option for patients with foveal choroidal neovascularization secondary to age-related macular degeneration.