Patients who were enrolled in a controlled treatment trial of laser grid photocoagulation for retinal pigment epithelial detachment as part of age-related maculopathy were reviewed 4 years after entry into the trial. The data imply that the original conclusion that this form of treatment did not improve the visual prognosis at 18 months was also justified at 4 years. It has become clear that lesions with evidence of subpigment epithelial new vessels were included in the trial. In a retrospective study the lesions were separated into those in which there was evidence of subretinal neovascularisation and those in which no such evidence existed. A difference was identified in the behaviour of the treated and untreated lesions designated avascular in that the treated eyes had a poorer visual outcome. These cases accounted for the different behaviour between two management groups in the initial study such that the original conclusion that grid photocoagulation of avascular pigment epithelial detachments in the elderly does not improve the visual prognosis is justified.