Awareness of the development of age-related macular degeneration has been increasing slowly with the recognition of the advancing age of the population.
Awareness of the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has been increasing slowly with the recognition of the advancing age of the population.
“In line with aging population, there has been an explosion of AMD," said Rahul N. Khurana, MD, clinical associate professor in ophthalmology, University of California Medical Center, San Francisco. "The estimated numbers of individuals with AMD will grow from the current 2 million patients affected to nearly 4.4 million by 2050, that is, over a doubling of the number of people with AMD.”
In addition to that startling statistic, a Harris poll conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) uncovered the jarring fact that individuals do not know that they can lose vision to an eye disease that initially has no symptoms.
The results of a retrospective cross-sectional survey published in BMJ Open Ophthalmology (Parfitt et al. 2019; http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjophth-2019-000276) emphasized this.
The study found that “only one third of respondents [members of the UK Macular Society] were able to self-detect symptoms. In line with national guidance, over half (n = 131; 64%) of those self-detecting symptoms sought help promptly. For those whose initial diagnosis was delayed more than 1 week, 27% had potentially treatable wet AMD requiring urgent treatment to prevent vision loss. Reasons for delay reflected individual and service-related issues, including AMD not being detected in the initial consultation, and individuals not perceiving the urgency for symptom investigation.”
Dr. Khurana underscored two important points. First, that in the face of such a clinical scenario, early diagnosis is mandatory to start preventive treatment with high-dose antioxidant vitamins that may help prevent development of the vision-threatening complications of AMD.
“These vitamins decrease the chances of developing wet AMD,” he explained.
Second, if those complications do develop, the earlier a diagnosis is established, the better the treatment outcomes may be. “This are the two reasons for raising awareness of AMD,” Dr. Khurana emphasized.
Rahul N. Khurana, MD
Dr. Khurana did not indicate any proprietary interests relative to the subject matter.