Radiotherapy for age-related macular degeneration: Preliminary results of a potentially new treatment

Anthony M. Berson, Paul T. Finger, David L. Sherr, Richard Emery, Alan A. Alfieri, Jay L. Bosworth

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60 Scopus citations


Purpose: Neovascular macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe blindness in North America today. Limited treatments are available for this disease process. A Phase I/II study was performed to determine the toxicity and efficacy of external beam radiotherapy in patients with age-related subfoveal neovascularization. Methods and Materials: Between March 1994 and June 1995, 52 patients with a mean age of 80 (60-92) were enrolled. These patients were either not eligible or were poor candidates for laser photocoagulation, primarily because of the subfoveal location of the neovascularization. Initial visual acuities ranged from 20 out of 32 to finger counting at 3 feet. All patients underwent fluorescein angiographic evaluation and documentation of their neovascular disease prior to irradiation. Patients were treated with a single lateral 4- or 6-MV photon beam, to a dose of 14-15 Gy in eight fractions over 10 days. The field size averaged 5 x 3 cm. Results: No significant acute morbidity was noted. All patients underwent ophthalmic examinations and repeat angiography at 1 and 3 months posttreatment and then at 3-month intervals. With a mean follow-up of 7 months (3-18 months), 41 patients (79%) are within two lines of their pretreatment visual acuity. On angiographic imaging, there was stabilization of subfoveal neovascular membranes in 34 patients (65%). New neovascular membranes have been noted in five patients. Conclusions: It appears that radiotherapy can affect active subretinal neovascularization, but it is unlikely to prevent new neovascular events produced by this chronic disease. Further investigation is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-865
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Macular degeneration
  • Radiotherapy
  • Subfoveal neovascularization


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