Purpose To determine the incidence and progression of macular atrophy in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treated with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antagonists. Design Retrospective interventional case series. Methods All patients with neovascular AMD treated by the same physician during a 12-month period of ascertainment had all images from their entire follow-up period evaluated, and areas of retina that developed atrophy were compared to the same areas prior to the onset of anti-VEGF treatment. Longitudinal measurements of retinal atrophy were made. Results In 39 patients, 52 eyes with neovascular AMD were identified. We excluded 5 eyes from analysis (4 had retinal pigment epithelium tears, and 1 had a laser scar). Fundus photographs of the remaining eyes showed that 18/47 eyes (38%) contained hypopigmented areas suggestive of atrophy within the macula at some time during follow-up. Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography confirmed that these areas had loss of retinal pigmented epithelium and ellipsoids zones, with or without subretinal material suggestive of subretinal fibrosis. Comparison of fundus photographs with fluorescein angiograms showed that in 13/18 eyes (72%), atrophy developed in areas previously occupied by choroidal neovascularization, and the other 5 eyes had atrophy prior to the onset of anti-VEGF treatment. The mean (±standard deviation) rate of increase in pure atrophic areas (no subretinal material) was 0.7 ± 0.8 mm2 per year, with a range of 0.01-2.6 mm2/year. Conclusion Treatment of neovascular AMD with a VEGF-neutralizing protein can result in regression of choroidal neovascularization, which is sometimes associated with atrophy of overlying retina.
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