Macular hole

Surv Ophthalmol. Mar-Apr 1998;42(5):393-416. doi: 10.1016/s0039-6257(97)00132-x.


A macular hole is a full-thickness defect of retinal tissue involving the anatomic fovea, thereby affecting central visual acuity. Macular holes have been associated with myriad ocular conditions and originally were described in the setting of trauma. The pathogenesis of idiopathic, age-related macular holes remains unclear despite a litany of theories. Recently, Gass has described an updated biomicroscopic classification of macular holes and postulated that tangential vitreous traction may play a role. Cellular components surrounding the rim of macular holes may also contribute tangential traction forces and elevate the rim. Pseudomacular holes may be mistaken for macular hole lesions, despite careful clinical examination. Careful biomicroscopic examination with a contact lens and use of the Watzke and laser aiming beam tests help to ensure accurate diagnosis. Newer imaging technology, such as optical coherence tomography, helps distinguish true macular holes from pseudoholes and may provide additional insight into the pathogenesis of this condition. Surgical management with or without pharmacosurgical adjuncts can improve vision in select cases. The most common surgical complication is progressive lens opacification in phakic patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / pathology*
  • Retinal Perforations* / diagnosis
  • Retinal Perforations* / etiology
  • Retinal Perforations* / surgery
  • Visual Acuity
  • Vitrectomy