More focus on quality of life in patients with age-related macular degeneration

May 4, 2005

The quality of life in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is coming under increasing scrutiny in recent years compared with previous studies which focused primarily on intraocular pressure and visual field changes.

May 4

- Fort Lauderdale, FL - The quality of life in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is coming under increasing scrutiny in recent years compared with previous studies which focused primarily on intraocular pressure and visual field changes.

Quality of life is measured by patient responses to different types of questionnaires: generic instruments, such as the Short Form 36; vision-directed instruments, such as the National Eye Institute Visual Field Questionnaire; and glaucoma-directed instruments, explained Henry Jampel, MD.

There are three factors that affect the quality of life of patients with glaucoma: treatment, the disease, and the effect (stress) of receiving a diagnosis of glaucoma.

According to Dr. Jampel, of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, treatment, whether medical or surgical, has no demonstrable adverse effects on patients, with surgery being no worse than medical therapy long term.

Regarding the effect of the disease on quality of life, no effect of early glaucoma was detectable; however, moderate visual field defects affect quality of life and the effect progresses in a linear fashion with worsening of the disease.

Finally, Dr. Jampel believes that receiving a diagnosis of glaucoma results in decreased quality of life and patient function; various studies have reported that patients expressed anxiety when diagnosed with glaucoma.

"The effect of treatment may not be a major long-term factor in the quality of life of patients. More work must be done to determine if early glaucoma has clinically important effects that we are missing. The effects of living with the diagnosis of glaucoma and being told the diagnosis need to be studied more intensively," Dr. Jampel stated.