Background: The current study is a prospective randomized clinical trial to determine the effect of interferon alpha-2a on eyes with subfoveal subretinal neovascularization secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Methods: Twenty eyes of 19 patients with subfoveal neovascularization secondary to AMD were prospectively evaluated. Ten eyes were randomized to subcutaneous interferon alpha-2a (3 million units/m2) every other day for 8 weeks, whereas 10 eyes were randomized to observation alone as controls. Fluorescein angiography, best-corrected visual acuity tests, and macular visual field assessments were performed, and all eyes were followed for a minimum of 6 months.
Results: At the 2-month follow-up visit, the interferon group manifested somewhat slower neovascular growth than controls, but the results were not statistically significant. At the 6-month follow-up visit, there was no difference in visual acuity, average macular sensitivities, or extent of neovascularization. The rate of neovascular progression was significantly related to the extent of previous macular photocoagulation in both groups.
Conclusion: Though the rate of neovascular progression was slowed during the second month of interferon treatment, the effect did not persist once interferon was discontinued. No long-term benefit appeared to be present. Unfortunately, lengthening the time of administration, increasing the dosage, or increasing the frequency of administration would likely give rise to unacceptable side effects.