Macular telangiectasia (MacTel) Type 2 is a progressing neurovascular disease of the macula, currently lacking effective treatment. This study assessed the effect of nondamaging retinal laser therapy (NRT) compared with sham.
Twelve MacTel patients were enrolled in this double-masked, controlled, randomized clinical trial. For the nine patients with both eyes eligible, one eye was randomized to NRT or sham and the other received alternate treatment. For three patients with only one eye eligible, that eye was randomly assigned either NRT or sham. Ellipsoid zone disruption, best-corrected visual acuity, and macular automated perimetry at 12 months served as structural and functional measures.
Eleven eyes were randomized to sham and 10 to NRT. Baseline best-corrected visual acuity was 66 letters (20/50) for sham and 72 letters (20/40) for NRT (P = 0.245). Ellipsoid zone disruption area was 298 µm2 in sham and 368 µm2 in NRT (P = 0.391). At 12 months, ellipsoid zone disruption increased by 24% in sham and decreased by 34% in NRT (P < 0.001). Best-corrected visual acuity measures remained stable during follow-up compared with baseline. At 1 year, the mean macular sensitivity was 28 dB in the NRT group, compared with 26 dB in sham.
Nondamaging retinal laser therapy was safe and well tolerated in patients with MacTel and resulted in structural and functional improvements, which could represent a protective effect of laser-induced hyperthermia. Longer follow-up and larger number of patients should help corroborate these effects.