Choroidal Neovascular Membranes: What Are They?

A healthy, undamaged retina is essential for clear vision in the eye. Choroidal neovascular membranes (CNVM) are new blood vessels that form beneath the retina and cause damage. The choroid is where these blood vessels develop. They are able to get past the choroid-retina barrier. They cause visual loss when they leak or bleed in the retina.

CNVM has been linked to several significant eye illnesses, the most frequent of which is wet age-related macular degeneration. Patients with histoplasmosis, ocular damage, and myopic macular degeneration all have CNVM.

choroidal neovascular membranes

Symptoms of Choroidal Neovascular Membranes

You may experience painless visual loss if you have CNVM. Blank patches in your eyesight, particularly in your central vision, may be noticeable. Straight lines may appear curved, twisted, or uneven because your vision is affected.

Other signs and symptoms to look out for are:

  • For each eye, objects appear to be of various sizes.
  • Colors lose their vibrancy or might not appear the same in each eye.
  • In the central vision, light flashes or flickers may be seen.

choroidal neovascular membranes

Who Is at Risk?

People above the age of 50 are more likely to have choroidal neovascular membranes (CNVM). With age, the danger increases. The majority of patients with CNVM have wet age-related macular degeneration.

CNVM can develop at a younger age in those who have risk factors for various eye disorders or who have had an eye injury.

choroidal neovascular membranes

Diagnosis of Choroidal Neovascular Membranes

Your ophthalmologist will take specific images of your eye to diagnose choroidal neovascular membranes (CNVM). Fluorescein angiography (FA) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) are used to take photographs of the eyes. 

A fluorescein dye is injected into a vein in your arm during FA. The dye reaches every part of your body, including your eyes. As the dye flows through your retinal blood vessels, FA collects photos of them. The dye reveals abnormal spots, revealing whether you have choroidal neovascular membranes.

A cross-section image of your retina is created using OCT scanning. This image aids in the detection of abnormal blood vessels by your ophthalmologist.

choroidal neovascular membranes

Treatment of Choroidal Neovascular Membranes

The treatment for choroidal neovascular membranes (CNVM) varies based on the underlying condition. Anti-VEGF medicines, thermal laser treatment, or photodynamic therapy are all options for treatment (PDT). You may receive one or more of these therapies, depending on how far your condition has progressed.


Anti-VEGF Therapy

Anti-VEGF medicines are a frequent treatment for CNVM. These medications work by targeting a substance in your body that causes abnormal blood vessels to form under the retina. Blocking VEGF substance in your eye decreases the formation of CNVM, minimizes leakage, decreases vision loss, and improves eyesight in some situations.

In an outpatient procedure, your ophthalmologist injects the anti-VEGF medication straight into your eye. Your ophthalmologist will clean and numb your eye before administering the injection. Many anti-VEGF injections may be given over the course of several months. For continuing benefit, anti-VEGF therapies are frequently required.


Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

PDT targets the CNVM with a photosensitizer, a light-activated medication, and a low-power, or cool, laser. This technique is commonly performed in an ophthalmologist’s office as an outpatient treatment. A vein in your arm is injected with the photosensitive substance. It spreads throughout the body, eventually reaching the abnormal blood vessels. The laser is focused directly on the abnormal veins, causing the medication to be activated. Because aberrant blood vessels may reopen after PDT, you may require repeat treatments. 

Thermal Laser Treatment

Thermal laser therapy is another treatment option for CNVM. In most cases, laser treatment is performed as an outpatient operation.

In this process, the high-energy, focused beam of light in a laser is used. When it strikes the treatment area of the retina, it causes a minor burn. The abnormal blood vessels are then destroyed, limiting additional leakage, bleeding, and expansion.

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