Purpose: To report the practicability and efficacy of autologous iris pigment epithelium (IPE) translocation in exudative age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) over 1 year.
Methods: The consecutive interventional case series included 56 patients with exudative ARMD. During vitrectomy the submacular neovascular membrane (CNV) was removed and IPE cells, harvested from a peripheral iridectomy, were injected into the submacular space. Included were patients with subfoveal occult CNV (11 eyes), classic CNV (10 eyes), mixed CNV (17 eyes), CNV with a pigment epithelial detachment (13 eyes) or CNV with a hemorrhage (5 eyes). Outcome measures were visual acuity, foveal fixation, size of CNV and rate of recurrence based on fluorescence angiographic imaging.
Results: All patients underwent successful surgical removal of the CNV with consecutive subretinal IPE injection. Visual acuity was better than 20/100 in 19 patients preoperatively and in 18 patients postoperatively. A visual acuity of 20/100 or less was found in 37 patients preoperatively and in 38 patients postoperatively. Mean preoperative visual acuity (1.0+/-0.3 logMAR units) did not change significantly after 1 year (1.0+/-0.3 logMAR units). Ten eyes (18%) developed a recurrence. Fixation within the surgically denuded area could be demonstrated in 25 eyes (45%).
Conclusions: Autologous IPE translocation for ARMD over one year can preserve foveal function on a low level, but cannot improve visual acuity. IPE translocation is technically feasible with a low rate of complications. Continued research seems justified to improve functional outcome.