Polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy

Surv Ophthalmol. 2004 Jan-Feb;49(1):25-37. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2003.10.007.


Polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy was first described as a peculiar hemorrhagic disorder of the macula, characterized by recurrent sub-retinal and sub-retinal pigment epithelium bleeding in middle aged black women. The use of indocyanine green angiography and subsequently of optical coherent tomography has widened our ability to study and understand the pathophysiology of this disorder. The primary abnormality involves the choroidal circulation, and the characteristic lesion is an inner choroidal vascular network of vessels ending in an aneurysmal bulge or outward projection, visible clinically as a reddish orange, spheroid, polyp-like structure. We have also recognized that individuals of African-American and Asian descents are more at risk for developing polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy as the disorder seems to preferentially affect pigmented individuals. However, it has been shown that while that still holds true, patients of other racial backgrounds may be afflicted. Particularly, polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy has been found to be present in about 8-13% of white patients with clinical appearance of exudative age-related macular degeneration. Polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy has also been reported in Irish, French, German, and Italian patients. The natural course of the disease often follows a remitting-relapsing course, and clinically, it is associated with chronic, multiple, recurrent serosanguineous detachments of the retinal pigment epithelium and neurosensory retina with long-term preservation of good vision. Photodynamic treatment appears to be a promising alternative to conventional laser therapy, for the treatment of polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy. In conclusion, polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy seems to be a distinct clinical entity that should be differentiated from other types of choroidal neovascularization associated with age-related macular degeneration and other known choroidal degenerative, inflammatory, and ischemic disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Choroid / blood supply*
  • Choroid Diseases / complications*
  • Choroid Diseases / diagnosis
  • Choroid Diseases / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Indocyanine Green
  • Laser Coagulation
  • Macular Degeneration / etiology
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / complications*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / therapy
  • Photochemotherapy
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology


  • Indocyanine Green