The etiology and treatment of macular detachment associated with optic nerve pits and related anomalies

E. A. Postel, J. S. Pulido, J. A. McNamara, M. W. Johnson, A. Kreiger, M. S. Cox, A. Ferry, W. H. Spencer, J. Horton, E. A. Postel

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94 Scopus citations


Purpose: Up to two thirds of patients with optic disc pits develop a sight-limiting maculopathy. There is confusion regarding the etiology and nature of the maculopathy in these cases. We present 7 cases of serous macular detachment occurring in association with optic pits or related cavitary anomalies and identify a rhegmatogenous etiology. Methods: We reviewed the records of 7 patients with optic nerve anomalies and macular detachment. Patients were treated with observation, barricade laser, vitrectomy, and/or gas tamponade. Results: Seven patients were noted to have serous macular detachment associated with an optic nerve pit or other cavitary anomaly. A hole or tear in the diaphanous tissue overlying the optic pit was identified in all cases. None of the patients had a posterior vitreous detachment. Two were treated with photocoagulation only, and 5 underwent pars plana vitrectomy with fluid-gas exchange with or without photocoagulation. Pretreatment visual acuity ranged from 20/30 to 6/200. Posttreatment acuity ranged from 20/25 to 20/100. Five of 7 eyes had final acuities of 20/30 or better, and all treated eyes improved. Conclusions: A tear in the diaphanous tissue overlying the optic nerve pit is responsible for the development of serous macular detachment and is consistent with findings in similar conditions, such as retinal detachment in association with chorioretinal coloboma. These tears may be quite subtle, and careful biomicroscopic examination is required to appreciate them. The treatment of this condition remains controversial. However, because of the relatively poor prognosis, we believe treatment should include the formation of a barricade to fluid movement as well as sealing and relief of traction from the hole. The value of laser treatment may be increased by the early identification of a defect in the diaphanous membrane prior to the development of macular detachment. Consideration of prophylactic laser might then reduce the need for later, more invasive measures, and improve the prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalTransactions of the American Ophthalmological Society
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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