The results of vitreous surgery for chronic macular holes

Retina. 1997;17(6):493-501. doi: 10.1097/00006982-199711000-00002.


Purpose: To evaluate the visual and anatomic results of macular hole surgery in eyes that have had symptoms of a macular hole for 2 years or longer.

Methods: Fifty-one eyes with chronic macular holes (> or = 2 years' duration) were treated in a retrospective analysis of the results of vitrectomy, 16% perfluoropropane gas tamponade, and one of three adjunctive agents (bovine transforming growth factor beta-2, recombinant transforming growth factor beta-2, or autologous platelet extract). Of 51 eyes, 45 (88.2%) were examined 3 months after surgery. Visual acuity of these 45 eyes was measured preoperatively and 3 months postoperatively using the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) visual acuity chart. Twenty-eight eyes (62.2%) had no prior vitrectomy and 17 eyes (37.8%) had a prior vitrectomy for the macular hole that failed.

Results: The macular holes had a mean duration of 3.7 years and were successfully closed in 32 of 51 total eyes (62.7%) and 32 of 45 eyes (71.1%) that were examined 3 months after surgery. The mean preoperative visual acuity was 20/100 -2 and the mean visual acuity at 3 months was 20/80 for a mean gain of 6.6 ETDRS letters (+ 1.3 lines). Of 45 eyes, 17 (37.8%) were 20/63 or better 3 months after surgery; 21 (46.7%) gained 2 or more ETDRS lines. There was no statistically significant difference in macular hole closure (P = 0.311) or visual acuity change (P = 0.095) in eyes with or without prior vitreous surgery. Eyes with macular holes between 2-2.99 years experienced a somewhat better anatomic and functional result overall than eyes with macular hole from 3-14 years, duration, but the visual acuity change was not statistically significant (P = 0.187). There was substantial variability in visual improvement among eyes with successful closure of the chronic macular hole.

Conclusions: Macular holes of > or = 2 years' duration may be more difficult to close successfully than are more recent macular holes, and the visual improvement appears to be less favorable. Many eyes with chronic macular holes in our study gained substantial visual acuity, so vitreous surgery can be considered in selected eyes with chronic macular holes based on visual needs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Platelets*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fluorocarbons / administration & dosage*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Retinal Perforations / diagnosis
  • Retinal Perforations / physiopathology
  • Retinal Perforations / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Vitrectomy*


  • Fluorocarbons
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • perflutren