Purpose: To evaluate the functional and anatomical outcomes of autologous translocation of peripheral choroid and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in patients with geographic atrophy.
Design: Prospective nonrandomized study.
Participants: Twelve consecutive patients with geographic atrophy secondary to age-related macular degeneration presenting with recent loss of reading vision.
Methods: An autologous peripheral full-thickness graft of RPE, Bruch's membrane, and choroid was positioned under the macula in patients with geographic atrophy.
Main outcome measures: Functional tests included Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study distant vision, reading (Radner Test, measured as logarithm of the reading acuity determination [logRAD]), threshold static perimetry, and determination of the point of fixation. Fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography, autofluorescence, and optical coherence tomography served to evaluate the anatomical outcome in a 6-month follow-up (12 months in 7 patients).
Results: Preoperative visual acuity (VA) ranged from 20/800 to 20/40 (mean, 0.6+/-0.4 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution), and reading vision from 1.1 to 0.5 logRAD (mean, 0.8+/-0.2). Three patients were unable to read. Six months after surgery, VA ranged from hand movements to 20/32, with an increase of > or =5 letters in 2 eyes. Two patients without reading ability preoperatively were able to read after surgery. Reading was possible in a total of 8 patients after 6 months (1.3-0.4 logRAD). In 7 patients who were observed for 1 year, VA remained stable (+/-1 line) in 5 eyes and decreased in 2 eyes between 6 months' and 1 year's follow-up. In all eyes but 2, revascularization was visible on indocyanine green angiography as early as 3 weeks after surgery. Autofluorescence of the RPE was independent of revascularization of the graft and persisted throughout follow-up. Four eyes had unstable fixation and/or extrafoveal fixation before surgery. Two of these eyes stabilized during follow-up. Areas overlying atrophic areas demonstrated low threshold sensitivities that persisted after translocation of a free graft with only limited recovery. Revisional surgery due to proliferative vitreoretinopathy was required in 5 eyes.
Conclusions: The translocation of a full-thickness graft usually results in a vascularized and functioning graft in patients with geographic atrophy, although is associated with a high risk of complications and visual loss. Longer follow-up is necessary to learn about the long-term survival and functionality of the graft.