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December 1996

Macular Scatter ('Grid') Laser Treatment of Poorly Demarcated Subfoveal Choroidal Neovascularization in Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Results of a Randomized Pilot Trial

Author Affiliations

From the Retinal Vascular Center of the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital, Baltimore, Md (Drs N. M. Bressler, Schachat, and S. B. Bressler and Ms Alexander); The Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Drs Maguire and Fine); University Eye Associates, Wayne State University, St Clair Shores, Mich (Dr Murphy); Associated Retinal Consultants, Royal Oak, Mich (Dr Margherio); and the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Dr Stevens).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(12):1456-1464. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100140654002

Objectives:  To determine the effects of macular scatter ("grid") laser photocoagulation compared with observation on the visual function of eyes with subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV) that has poorly demarcated boundaries and to provide preliminary data for the evaluation of the feasibility and design of a larger, definitive trial.

Design:  Randomized pilot clinical trial.

Setting:  Two tertiary care retinal referral practices.

Patients:  Symptomatic individuals with subfoveal CNV secondary to age-related macular degeneration in whom fluorescein angiography showed occult CNV with poorly demarcated boundaries; classic CNV was allowed but did not need to be present for entry into the study.

Main Outcome Measure:  Change in visual acuity from baseline to specified time periods.

Results:  Fifty-two eyes were assigned to observation. Fifty-one eyes were assigned randomly to treatment consisting of macular scatter ("grid") laser photocoagulation to the area of CNV. The treatment protocol for 8 of these eyes also included confluent laser photocoagulation to areas of classic CNV. The average visual acuity decrease from baseline was greater in the treated than in the observed group. The difference between these groups was greatest within the first year after study enrollment. At 24 months, slightly more than 40% of the eyes in each group had lost 6 or more lines of visual acuity. Similar results were noted for the subgroup of eyes initially with angiographic features of occult CNV but no classic CNV.

Conclusions:  These short-term study results suggest that macular scatter ("grid") laser treatment is not beneficial and is possibly harmful compared with observation for symptomatic subfoveal CNV with poorly demarcated boundaries in age-related macular degeneration. With or without treatment, a significant proportion of these patients are at risk of severe visual loss within 2 years of seeking treatment, even when the eye initially has occult CNV and no classic CNV.

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