Background: At present no satisfying treatment for subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is available. Visual results after successful surgical removal of subfoveal CNV are disappointing. This has been explained by a primary dysfunction of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in the macular region and the surgical trauma to the RPE in patients with AMD. Therefore, Machemer and Steinhorst developed a technique for macular translocation after surgical removal of subfoveal CNV. We report our first experiences with this technique in patients with subfoveal CNV secondary to AMD.
Methods: Seven patients aged between 71 and 83 years with subfoveal CNV were included in the study. Visual acuity of the fellow eyes was below 20/400. All patients underwent pars plana vitrectomy. Retinal detachment was produced by subretinal infusion of balanced salt solution and a 360 degrees retinotomy at the base of the vitreous was performed. After removal of the CNV, retinal rotation and reattachment, the retina bordering the retinotomy was coagulated with endolaser photocoagulation. Silicone oil was used as temporary tamponade.
Results: In all patients the subfoveal CNV was removed and the macula was translocated by a 15 degrees-45 degrees rotation onto functional RPE. The mean duration of follow-up was 11 +/- 3 months. Initial visual acuity ranged from 20/80 to hand movements. Final visual acuity was 20/100 to 20/400. Initially all patients complained of tilted vision. During follow-up the rotation of the image regressed and was well tolerated by all patients. Complications included the development of retinal detachment in three patients after silicone oil removal, development of a macula pucker, and a significant increase of lens opacity in the phakic eyes.
Conclusion: In our series rapid improvement of visual function was observed in one patient only, even if the macula appeared ophthalmoscopically and angiographically normal. Vitreoretinal complications occurred frequently during follow-up.