Vision-threatening complications of surgery for full-thickness macular holes. Vitrectomy for Macular Hole Study Group

Ophthalmology. 1997 Sep;104(9):1442-52; discussion 1452-3. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(97)30118-3.


Objective: To study complications of vitrectomy surgery for full-thickness macular holes.

Design: A multicentered, randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Participants: Community and university-based ophthalmology clinics.

Intervention: Standardized macular hole surgery versus observation.

Main outcome measures: Assessment of anatomic and visual outcomes and determination of postoperative complications at 12 months after randomization.

Results: Posterior segment complications were noted in 39 eyes (41%). The incidence of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) alteration and retinal detachment (RD) were 33% and 11%, respectively. One RD due to a giant retinal tear resulted in a visual acuity of light perception. Other complications included a reopening of the macular hole in 2 eyes (2%), cystoid macular edema in 1 eye (1%), a choroidal neovascular membrane in 1 eye (1%) and endophthalmitis in 1 eye (1%). Eyes with complications had significantly worse visual acuity outcomes as determined by the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study, Word Reading, and Potential Acuity Meter charts (P < 0.01 for all comparisons). Eyes with macular holes greater than 475 microns were more than twice as likely to have complications than eyes with holes less than 475 microns (odds ratio [OR] = 2.2, P = 0.07). Before surgery, the stage of the hole was related to postoperative RPE changes (P < 0.0001) and the occurrence of postoperative RD (P = 0.0002). Intraoperative trauma was related to the occurrence of these complications (P < 0.0001 for RPE changes, P = 0.02 for RDs). Epiretinal membrane removal was related to RPE changes (P = 0.02) but not RDs.

Conclusions: The RPE alterations and RDs are common after macular hole surgery and result in significantly reduced postoperative visual acuity. The RPE changes may be related to surgical trauma or light toxicity. Further efforts to reduce complications associated with macular hole surgery are indicated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / pathology
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Retinal Detachment / etiology
  • Retinal Detachment / pathology
  • Retinal Detachment / physiopathology
  • Retinal Perforations / surgery*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Vision Disorders / pathology
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Vitrectomy / adverse effects*