Subfoveal Choroidal Neovascularization

What is Subfoveal Choroidal Neovascularization?

Subfoveal neovascularization (SFN) is a type of macular degeneration caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the choroid, the delicate membrane beneath the retina. These blood vessels leak fluid and can cause a decrease in vision as well as bleeding and scarring. Left untreated, SFN can cause severe vision loss.

In the early stage of SFN, often called “dry” macular degeneration, vision loss or changes to the retina may be noticed. However, in the more advanced “wet” form of macular degeneration, the abnormal blood vessels develop around or beneath the macula, which is the area of the eye responsible for central vision. The abnormal blood vessels can leak and cause damage to the macula, leading to vision loss.

Diagnosis of Subfoveal Choroidal Neovascularization

SFN is usually diagnosed through an eye exam. During the exam, the doctor may use an ophthalmoscope, which is a tool that helps the doctor look inside the eye, to check for any signs of abnormal blood vessels. The doctor may also use optical coherence tomography (OCT) or fluorescein angiography to take images of the retina and look for any bleeding or leakage from the abnormal blood vessels.

Treatment for Subfoveal Choroidal Neovascularization

The main treatment for SFN is laser surgery. This procedure uses a laser beam to destroy the abnormal blood vessels. There are two types of laser surgery: scatter laser and continuous wave laser. Scatter laser uses a single laser beam that is focused on the area of the retina where the abnormal blood vessels are growing, while continuous wave laser uses multiple beams to create an area of heat. Both types of laser can help reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

In addition, medications such as intravitreal injections and photodynamic therapy (PDT) can both be used to treat SFN. With intravitreal injections, medication is injected directly into the eye to help destroy the abnormal blood vessels. PDT uses light to activate a special drug which then destroys the abnormal blood vessels. Both treatments can help reduce bleeding and leakage from the abnormal blood vessels.

Prognosis for Subfoveal Choroidal Neovascularization

The prognosis for SFN varies from person to person and is largely dependent on how quickly treatment is started. With early diagnosis and treatment, vision loss can often be slowed down or even stopped. In some cases, the abnormal blood vessels may go away spontaneously without treatment. If treatment is delayed or not provided, the abnormal blood vessels can cause permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

It is important to note that SFN can cause sudden or gradual vision loss, so if you experience any symptoms of vision changes, it is important to talk to your doctor right away. Treatment for SFN is most effective when it is started early, so it is important to get regular eye checkups to monitor for changes in your vision.