Understanding the impact of fluid in different retinal compartments is critical to developing treatment paradigms that optimize visual acuity and reduce treatment burden in neovascular age-related macular degeneration. This systematic review aimed to determine the impact of persistent/new subretinal fluid, intraretinal fluid, and subretinal pigment epithelial fluid on visual acuity over 1 year of treatment.
Publication eligibility and data extraction were conducted according to Cochrane methods: 27 of the 1,797 screened records were eligible.
Intraretinal fluid negatively affected visual acuity at baseline and throughout treatment, with foveal intraretinal fluid associated with lower visual acuity than extrafoveal intraretinal fluid. Some studies found that subretinal fluid (particularly subfoveal) was associated with higher visual acuity at Year 1 and longer term, and others suggested subretinal fluid did not affect visual acuity at Years 1 and 2. Data on the effects of subretinal pigment epithelial fluid were scarce, and consensus was not reached. Few studies reported numbers of injections associated with fluid status.
To optimally manage neovascular age-related macular degeneration, clinicians should understand the impact of fluid compartments on visual acuity. After initial treatment, antivascular endothelial growth factor regimens that tolerate stable subretinal fluid (if visual acuity is stable/improved) but not intraretinal fluid may enable patients to achieve their best possible visual acuity. Confirmatory studies are required to validate these findings.