Purpose: Swept source optical coherence tomography angiography (SS-OCTA) was used to study the prevalence, incidence, and natural history of subclinical macular neovascularization (MNV) in eyes with unilateral nonexudative age-related macular degeneration. Design: Prospective cohort study. Methods: Patients were imaged using 3- × 3-mm and 6- × 6-mm SS-OCTA scan patterns. MNV was detected using the outer retina to choriocapillaris en face slab. Prevalence and incidence of subclinical MNV, Kaplan–Meier cumulative estimates for the overall risk of exudation, and the association between neovascular lesion size and the risk of exudation were assessed through 2 years. Results: From August 2014 through March 2018, 227 patients (154 intermediate and 73 late age-related macular degeneration eyes) underwent SS-OCTA imaging. Thirty eyes (13.2%) had subclinical MNV at first imaging and 12 eyes (8.9%) developed subclinical MNV during follow-up. Of the 191 eyes with >1 visit, 19 developed exudation. Fourteen of these eyes had pre-existing subclinical MNV. The incidence of exudation from the time of first detection of any subclinical MNV was 34.5%. The relative risk of exudation after detection of subclinical MNV was 13.6 times greater (95% confidence interval 4.9–37.7) than in the absence of subclinical MNV (P < .001). There was no significant risk of exudation based on lesion size alone (P = .91). Conclusions: By 24 months, the risk of exudation was 13.6 times greater for eyes with subclinical MNV detected by SS-OCTA compared with eyes without subclinical MNV. For eyes with subclinical MNV in the absence of symptomatic exudation, we recommend close follow-up without treatment.
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