Purpose: To describe the effect of subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV) from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of patients at enrollment in two randomized clinical trials; to examine the relation of visual acuity to HRQOL; to compare HRQOL scores between participants with unilateral and bilateral CNV independent of other characteristics.
Design: Randomized clinical trials.
Methods: Two Submacular Surgery Trials (SST) recruited patients with AMD and either new subfoveal CNV (Group N Trial) or predominantly hemorrhagic CNV (Group B Trial). Health-related quality of life interviews included the National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire [NEI-VFQ], the SF-36 Health Survey, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]. Linear correlation and regression analyses were used to relate baseline HRQOL scores to visual acuity and bilateral disease.
Results: Interview data were analyzed for 789 AMD patients: 454 patients in the Group N Trial and 335 patients in the Group B Trial. Participants reported poor vision-related functioning in many domains measured by the NEI-VFQ (mean overall scores of 65 for Group N and 63 for Group B). Visual acuity of the better eye was strongly associated with NEI-VFQ scores but not with SF-36 or HADS scores. After adjusting for visual acuity of the better eye and other factors, bilateral cases had NEI-VFQ overall scores six points lower than unilateral cases in Group N Trial and 10 points lower than unilateral cases in the Group B Trial.
Conclusions: Subfoveal CNV profoundly affects vision-related quality of life. The effect is more pronounced with bilateral disease, even after controlling for visual acuity.