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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether internal limiting membrane (ILM) peeling improves anatomic and functional outcomes of full-thickness macular hole (FTMH) surgery when compared with the no-peeling technique. DESIGN: Systematic review and individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis undertaken under the auspices of the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group. Only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. PARTICIPANTS AND CONTROLS: Patients with idiopathic stage 2, 3, and 4 FTMH undergoing vitrectomy with or without ILM peeling. INTERVENTION: Macular hole surgery, including vitrectomy and gas endotamponade with or without ILM peeling. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcome was best-corrected distance visual acuity (BCdVA) at 6 months postoperatively. Secondary outcomes were BCdVA at 3 and 12 months; best-corrected near visual acuity (BCnVA) at 3, 6, and 12 months; primary (after a single surgery) and final (after >1 surgery) macular hole closure; need for additional surgical interventions; intraoperative and postoperative complications; patient-reported outcomes (PROs) (EuroQol-5D and Vision Function Questionnaire-25 scores at 6 months); and cost-effectiveness. RESULTS: Four RCTs were identified and included in the review. All RCTs were included in the meta-analysis; IPD were obtained from 3 of the 4 RCTs. No evidence of a difference in BCdVA at 6 months was detected (mean difference, -0.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.12 to 0.03; P=0.27); however, there was evidence of a difference in BCdVA at 3 months favoring ILM peeling (mean difference, -0.09; 95% CI, -0.17 to-0.02; P=0.02). There was evidence of an effect favoring ILM peeling with regard to primary (odds ratio [OR], 9.27; 95% CI, 4.98-17.24; P<0.00001) and final macular hole closure (OR, 3.99; 95% CI, 1.63-9.75; P=0.02) and less requirement for additional surgery (OR, 0.11; 95% CI, 0.05-0.23; P<0.00001), with no evidence of a difference between groups with regard to intraoperative or postoperative complications or PROs. The ILM peeling was found to be highly cost-effective. CONCLUSIONS: Available evidence supports ILM peeling as the treatment of choice for patients with idiopathic stage 2, 3, and 4 FTMH.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





649 - 655


Basement Membrane, Endotamponade, Epiretinal Membrane, Humans, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Retinal Perforations, Sickness Impact Profile, Surveys and Questionnaires, Treatment Outcome, Visual Acuity, Vitrectomy