Introduction: Because of long-term complications of external beam radiation in retinoblastoma, a new therapeutic modality using chemotherapy and local treatments is used whenever possible. We conducted a retrospective study to evaluate visual results.
Patients and method: We studied visual acuity and ocular side effects in children presenting uni- or bilateral retinoblastoma in whom we were able to achieve conservative management without external beam treatment. The treatments that were used included chemotherapy, chemothermotherapy, diode laser, iodine 125 plaque brachytherapy, and cryotherapy. The initial characteristics (diameter, subretinal or vitreous seeding, and location) of each tumor, the treatments used, their results, and the visual function after age 4 years were recorded.
Results: We treated 429 children for retinoblastoma at the Curie Institute between October 1994 and December 2002. Two hundred twenty-seven eyes had conservative treatment without external beam. We were able to study the visual function in 102 eyes at a median age of 67 months. The median follow-up after the end of the treatment was 5 years. The mean visual acuity was 20/37 and 60% of the children had visual acuity of more than 20/40. Macular alteration was observed in 34 eyes. Statistical analysis showed that a larger tumor diameter of the retinal surface (p<0.0003) and location close to the macula (p<0.0001) were the most significant risk factors for vision loss.
Conclusion: The visual results of the treatment of retinoblastoma by chemotherapy and local treatments is good when the tumors are not located close to the macula. Larger tumors also have a worse prognosis for vision.