Background: Subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV) usually is associated with a poor visual prognosis. Laser photocoagulation of certain subfoveal membranes secondary to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) appears preferable to observation based on recent Macular Photocoagulation Study (MPS) findings but is associated with decreased vision. The authors explored the use of vitreoretinal surgical techniques as an alternative method of eradicating subfoveal CNV.
Methods: After vitrectomy, a small retinotomy technique was used to extract or disconnect from the choroidal circulation subfoveal CNV in 58 eyes. There were 33 eyes with ARMD, 20 eyes with presumed ocular histoplasmosis, and 5 eyes with miscellaneous etiologies. Five eyes also received subfoveal RPE patches.
Results: With limited follow-up, significant improvement in vision (defined as 2 Snellen lines) was achieved in 7 of 22 eyes with ARMD CNV removal (1 eye 20/20), 0 of 4 eyes with ARMD CNV removal and RPE patches, and 1 of 7 eyes with ARMD CNV disconnection. Significant improvement was achieved in 6 of 16 eyes with presumed ocular histoplasmosis removal and 0 of 4 eyes with presumed ocular histoplasmosis CNV disconnection. In 5 eyes with miscellaneous CNV, 2 improved (20/20 and 20/40). CNV recurred in 29%.
Conclusions: Some patients with subfoveal CNV appear to benefit from surgical removal. Only rarely do eyes with ARMD improve. Longer-term follow-up and refined case selection are required before this approach can be widely recommended.