Clinical evaluation of the use of indocyanine green for peeling the internal limiting membrane in macular hole surgery

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2006 Mar;244(3):291-7. doi: 10.1007/s00417-005-0046-z.


Background: To evaluate the role of indocyanine green (infracyanine) in macular hole surgery.

Methods: A retrospective review of 38 consecutive eyes with macular hole, operated on with internal limiting membrane peeling (ILM), using or not using infracyanine (ICG), diluted in glucose 5% and filtered. Anatomical and functional results were analysed in each group, using visual field testing, fluorescein fundus angiography and particularly blue filter fundus photographs for the detection of retinal pigment epithelial changes and lesions of optic nerve fibres layer.

Results: Fifteen eyes underwent surgery without ICG and 23 eyes with ICG. The mean period of follow-up was 10 months. The duration of surgery was significantly lower in the group with ICG than without (P < 0.001). Overall, 84% of the holes closed without difference between both groups. The improvement in vision at 1, 6 and 12 months was similar in both groups. Fewer defects in the optic nerve fibres layer were observed in the group with ICG than without (P = 0.02). Staining with ICG revealed the presence of an associated epiretinal membrane in 61% of eyes, whereas it was clinically visible in only 17.5% before surgery.

Conclusion: Using ICG for ILM peeling produced similar visual results to those obtained without ICG. It reduced significantly the duration of surgery and the trauma to the optic nerve fibres layer, without increasing the risk of retinal pigment epithelial damage. However, in the light of recent reports about the possible toxicity of ICG, its use should be restricted in clinical practice to difficult cases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Basement Membrane / pathology
  • Basement Membrane / surgery
  • Coloring Agents*
  • Epiretinal Membrane / diagnosis
  • Epiretinal Membrane / surgery*
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Indocyanine Green*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retinal Perforations / diagnosis
  • Retinal Perforations / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields


  • Coloring Agents
  • Indocyanine Green