The time course of spontaneous closure of idiopathic full-thickness macular holes

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Neubauer J., Gelisken F., Ozturk T., Bartz-Schmidt K., Dimopoulos S.

Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00417-024-06465-2
  • Journal Name: Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Full Thickness Macular Hole, Macular Hole, Re-opening, Spontaneous Closure, Time Course, Watch and Wait
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: Spontaneous closure of idiopathic full-thickness macular holes (iFTMH) has been reported regularly. However, little is known about its probability and timeline. Methods: In this retrospective study all consecutive patients who presented between August 2008 and August 2019 were screened for the presence of a macular hole and only iFTMHs were included. The primary outcome measure was the spontaneous closure of the iFTMH. Results: Of 1256 eyes with macular holes, 338 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Spontaneous closure of the iFTMH was detected in 31 eyes (9.2%) with a median time of 44 days after diagnosis. Eyes exhibiting spontaneous closure demonstrated a higher baseline best-corrected visual-acuity (BCVA) and smaller iFTMH diameter (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001, respectively). The mean BCVA improved from 0.4 logMAR (SD ± 0.21) to 0.29 logMAR (SD ± 0.20) after spontaneous closure (p = 0.031). The iFTMH diameter was positively correlated with the time to spontaneous closure (Pearson-r = 0.37, p = 0.0377). Spontaneously closed iFTMHs reopened in 16% (n = 5) of cases, with a median of 136 days after closure. A logistic regression model showed the hole diameter was associated with spontaneous closure (odds-Ratio 0.97, 95%CI [0.96, 0.98]). The Kaplan–Meier-Curve revealed that approximately 25% of small-iFTMH (n = 124) and 55% of iFTMH with a diameter < 150µm (n = 48) closed spontaneously within two months. Conclusion: The established gold-standard for the treatment of iFTMHs is macular surgery. However, the potential for spontaneous closure of small iFTMHs must be acknowledged. Therefore, if surgical treatment is delayed in individual cases, close observation is recommended.