Background: Severe visual loss occurs in the presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (POHS) and in age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) from subfoveal neovascularization. Although laser photocoagulation has recently been recommended for this complication in ARMD, treatment is inevitably associated with a loss of central vision. In an attempt to restore and/or preserve central vision, the authors undertook surgical removal of subfoveal neovascular membranes in these diseases.
Methods: Patients with POHS and ARMD with reduced Snellen visual acuity to 20/80 or less were selected if there was angiographic evidence of a neovascular membrane beneath the fovea. Modern vitreoretinal techniques were used to remove the subfoveal neovascular complex.
Results: The authors' first 15 patients with POHS and 19 patients with ARMD were followed for an average of 4 months postoperatively. Snellen visual acuity improved by 2 lines or more in 8 of 15 (53%) cases of POHS. Although similar improvements in Snellen visual acuity were not observed in cases of ARMD, 14 of 19 (74%) cases showed either slight improvement or stabilization of their vision postoperatively. Complications included recurrent neovascularization in 2 of 15 (13%) and 3 of 19 (16%) eyes with POHS and ARMD, respectively. No retinal detachment or preretinal proliferation was observed.
Conclusions: These results suggest that subfoveal neovascularization can be successfully removed with preservation of foveal vision in POHS and stabilization in ARMD, at least for the short term. Visual improvement was observed in POHS even after 6 months of decreased vision. Finally, visual prognosis is most dependent on the integrity of the subfoveal RPE after removal of the membrane.