Purpose: Fundus reflection densitometry was used as an objective means for monitoring the recovery of foveal cone photopigments in nine patients who underwent anatomically successful surgery of a rhegmatogenous retinal detachment with macular involvement.
Methods: Postoperative assessment of foveal densitometry, visual acuity, color matching, and the Amsler grid were performed at repeated intervals for up to 14 months.
Results: Gradual recovery of foveal cone photopigments was found in all patients 1 to 14 months after surgery, with considerable interindividual variation. Maximal recovery to values equalling those in the fellow eye was found in only one patient with a macular detachment duration of 5 days. All other patients had final photopigment densities below those of the fellow eye. The length of the preoperative detachment period was inversely related to the recovery of photopigment. The recovery of photopigment seems to increase further in the second year after surgery. Visual acuity increased rapidly in all patients during the first 6 months after surgery, to levels ranging between 20/67 and 20/25; thereafter, visual acuity did not change. A return to normal color matching after an episode of pseudoprotanomaly was found in four of nine patients, whereas pseudoprotanomaly remained in five patients. Complete resolution of metamorphopsia after surgery was seen only in the patient who had the shortest detachment duration. Metamorphopsia was consistent with decreased foveal cone photopigment densities.
Conclusion: Foveal densitometry shows a slow recovery of the cone photopigments after reattachment, probably because of regrowth and realignment of the cone photoreceptor outer segments and metabolic recovery of the retinal pigment epithelium-cone photoreceptor complex. Recovery of photopigment, color matching, and metamorphosia follow a slower time course than recovery of visual acuity.