A phase I trial of stereotactic external beam radiation for subfoveal choroidal neovascular membranes in age-related macular degeneration

A. Barak, D. Hauser, P. Yipp, L. Morse, B. Leigh, D. Kubo, Z. Goldberg, J. Earle, J. T. Handa

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13 Scopus citations


Effective treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is currently limited. Radiation therapy, a therapeutic approach with known antiangiogenic properties, has been investigated as a modality to prevent severe visual loss in AMD. Most of the studies using external beam radiation employed <25 Gy to the whole eye, which is below the dose of radiation that is toxic to the retina and optic nerve (∼50 Gy and ∼59 Gy, respectively). Stereotactic fractionated external beam radiation (St-EBR) is a method that allows radiation to be delivered to a small, defined area. We investigated the effects of St-EBR in incremental doses up to 40 Gy on neovascular AMD. Patients with clinical signs and fluorescein angiography demonstrating neovascular AMD, visual acuity (VA) better than 20/400 and ineligible for laser treatment (MPS criteria) or who refused to have laser photocoagulation were enrolled in the study. Each patient was treated with radiation at incremental dosages from 20 Gy to 40 Gy. After completion of the radiation course, all patients were followed-up at 3 and 7 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months. Best-corrected VA (ETDRS), slit-lamp and fluorescein angiographic evaluations were performed at each visit. 94 eyes of 89 patients were treated from October 1997 to April 2000. The VA was 0.82 ± 0.35 before treatment, 0.83 ± 0.36 at 6 months, and 0.89 ± 0.33 at 12 months. No patients suffered any significant acute side effects. No significant benefits in either VA or in membrane size were derived from increasing the doses of radiation. Our results are consistent with trends of a palliative benefit of radiotherapy in neovascular AMD and support further investigation of radiotherapy. Since there is no evidence that therapeutic effectiveness is dose dependent, our data provide no justification for potentially dangerous escalations in radiation dosage for treating neovascular AMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-831
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
Issue number933
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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