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Palladium-103 plaque radiation therapy for macular degeneration: results of a 7 year study
  1. P T Finger1,3,
  2. Y P Gelman1,
  3. A M Berson1,2,
  4. A Szechter2
  1. 1New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, New York City, New York, USA
  2. 2St Vincent’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, New York City, New York, USA
  3. 3New York University School of Medicine, New York City, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Paul T Finger MD, 115 East 61st Street, New York City, NY 10003, USA;


Aim: To report 7 year results of ophthalmic plaque radiotherapy for exudative macular degeneration.

Methods: In a phase I clinical trial, 30 patients (31 eyes) were treated with ophthalmic plaque irradiation for subfoveal exudative macular degeneration. Radiation was delivered to a mean 2 mm from the inner sclera (range 1.2–2.4) prescription point calculated along the central axis of the plaque. The mean prescription dose was 17.62 Gy (range 12.5–24) delivered over 34 hours (range 18–65). Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) type standardised visual acuity determinations, ophthalmic examinations, and angiography were performed before and after treatment. Clinical evaluations were performed in a non-randomised and unmasked fashion.

Results: At 33.3 months (range 3–4), 17 of 31 (55%) eyes had lost 3 or more lines of vision on the ETDRS chart, five (16%) had improved 3 or more lines, and the remaining nine (29%) were within 2 lines of their pretreatment visual acuity measurement. Overall, 45% of patients were within or improved more than 2 lines of their initial visual acuity. Five eyes developed macular scars, eight developed subsequent neovascularisation or haemorrhage, and three progressed through therapy. Two patients were lost to follow up. The most common finding of patients followed for 6 or more months (n = 18 of 29 (62%)) was regression or stabilisation of the exudative process. No radiation retinopathy, optic neuropathy, or cataracts could be attributed to irradiation.

Conclusion: Ophthalmic plaque radiation can be used to treat exudative macular degeneration. At the dose and dose rates employed, most patients experienced decreased exudation or stabilisation of their maculas. No sight limiting radiation complications were noted during 7 year follow up. Owing to the variable natural course of this disease, a prospective randomised clinical trial should be performed to evaluate the efficacy of plaque radiation therapy for exudative macular degeneration.

  • radiation
  • macular degeneration
  • brachytherapy
  • neovascularisation
  • palladium-103

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  • Dr Finger is a scientific consultant fro the Theragenics Corporation, Buford, Georgia, USA and holds patent #6443881.

  • Supported by The EyeCare Foundation, Inc (New York City), Fight for Sight Research Division of Prevent Blindness America (Schaumburg, Illinois), and Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc (New York City).