To investigate the natural history and visual outcome in eyes with untreated retinal angiomatous proliferation, a neovascular form of age-related macular degeneration.
Fourteen consecutive white patients (11 women, 78%; mean age, 74 years) with 16 eyes affected by retinal angiomatous proliferation were prospectively followed-up without treatment by means of complete ophthalmologic examinations at regular intervals, including best-corrected visual acuity and dynamic fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography using a scanning laser ophthalmoscope.
The patients were observed for a mean of 20 months (range, 6–44 months). Mean visual acuity in the eyes with retinal angiomatous proliferation was 0.48 at the initial examination, decreased to 0.23 after 6 months, and was 0.19 at the final examination, with a mean decrease of 6 lines from baseline. In 13 eyes (81%), visual acuity deteriorated by 2 Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study lines or worse by the time of the 6-month examination, and 31% of the patients had experienced severe loss of vision; the remaining 3 eyes (19%) showed a relatively stable clinical course and visual acuity. By the time of the final examination, visual acuity had decreased to 0.1 or worse in 11 eyes (69%), and 5 of the 14 patients (36%) were legally blind. At the final examination, 10 eyes (62%) showed a subretinal fibrosis and 9 (56%) showed a retinal choroidal anastomosis.
Retinal angiomatous proliferation is a distinct form of neovascular age-related macular degeneration with high vasogenic potential, having its own clinical course and visual prognosis. The poor visual outcome is because of the exudative nature of the retinal angiomatous proliferation, and progression to poor vision is common and rapid (within 3 months in faster cases, and within 1 year in slower cases). The treatment options for this type of neovascular lesion should be planned bearing in mind its unfavorable natural history.