Presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome: update on epidemiology, pathogenesis, and photodynamic, antiangiogenic, and surgical therapies

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Presumed ocular histoplasmosis involves the classic triad of discrete atrophic choroidal scars in the macula or midperiphery known as histo spots, peripapillary atrophy, and choroidal neovascularization, which leads to severe loss of central vision. The histo spots from which the choroidal neovascularization develop do not show active inflammation but do represent focal defects in Bruch membrane that could facilitate development of choroidal neovascularization. The macular photocoagulation studies unequivocally show the benefit of photocoagulation compared with observation in reducing the risk of vision loss in patients with presumed ocular histoplasmosis, well defined extrafoveal or juxtafoveal choroidal neovascularization, and choroidal neovascularization in the peripapillary area. However, laser treatment itself causes an absolute scotoma correlating with the site of the laser photocoagulation scar, and subfoveal choroidal neovascularization is not amenable to laser photocoagulation because this would cause a blinding central scotoma. Consequently, other treatments have been sought. The Verteporfin in Ocular Histoplasmosis study evaluated photodynamic therapy for subfoveal choroidal neovascularization caused by presumed ocular histoplasmosis and demonstrated stabilization of the choroidal neovascularization and visual acuity benefit. In addition to photodynamic therapy, antiangiogenic compounds are being developed for choroidal neovascularization caused by age-related macular degeneration, and these agents will likely be of benefit in presumed ocular histoplasmosis associated choroidal neovascularization. Finally, submacular surgery for the removal of subfoveal choroidal neovascularization has promising results. The results of these research efforts will produce more effective therapeutic approaches in the future.

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