AIMS--This study was carried out to investigate the precise pattern of visual loss associated with subfoveal choroidal neovascular membranes and the mechanism by which vision is stabilised or improved after submacular surgery. METHODS--Preoperative and postoperative quantitative microperimetry using the scanning laser ophthalmoscope was performed on six eyes of five patients with age-related macular degeneration who underwent subfoveal choroidal neovascular membrane excision. The relation of the microperimetry findings to the preoperative and postoperative fluorescein angiographic features was also assessed. RESULTS--Four of the six eyes had visual improvement by the 6 month postoperative visit; the other two had stabilisation of vision at the preoperative level. Despite these beneficial visual effects, none of the patients fixated within the bed of the excised choroidal neovascular membrane. Subfoveal choroidal membrane excision was associated with a 36% average increase in the absolute scotoma at the 1 month postoperative visit, compared with the preoperative size. The postoperative scotoma appeared to remain stable or decreased slightly in size between the 6 month and 1 year postoperative visits. Recovery of vision was associated with the development of a more stable preferred eccentric fixation locus, of which the distance from the centre of the foveal avascular zone was related to final postoperative vision. Most of the eccentric fixation loci were inferotemporal to the bed of the excised choroidal neovascular membrane. The surgical retinotomy site was associated with persistent postoperative relative scotoma in five of the six cases, but resolved in one patient after 1 year. CONCLUSION--These findings indicate that quantitative scanning laser ophthalmoscope microperimetry may aid in the surgical planning of subfoveal choroidal neovascular membrane excision.
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