This investigation was designed to determine whether low dose radiation to the macular region could influence the natural course of age-related subfoveal neovascularisation. Nineteen patients with subfoveal membranes due to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) were treated with 10 or 15 Gy of 6 MV photons and seven patients who declined treatment were followed up as controls. Six controls and all treated patients had completed follow up times of at least 12 months. Visual acuity was maintained or improved in 78% and 63% of treated patients at their 6 and 12 month follow up examinations respectively. By contrast visual acuity showed steady deterioration in six of seven controls. Significant neovascular membrane regression, as measured by image analysis, was recorded in 68% and 77% of treated patients at 6 and 12 months post-radiation, whereas the membranes in all seven control patients showed progressive enlargement. This study suggests that low doses of radiation can maintain central vision and induce regression of subfoveal neovascular membranes of ARMD in a significant proportion of patients. We now believe it appropriate to proceed to a prospective randomised study to test this hypothesis further.
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