Purpose of review: The quality-of-life loss and the financial consequences associated with age-related macular degeneration are assessed.
Recent findings: The quality-of-life loss associated with macular degeneration is markedly underestimated by the general public, nonophthalmic physicians, and ophthalmologists who treat patients with this condition. Mild age-related macular degeneration causes a 17% decrement in the quality of life of the average patient, similar to that encountered with moderate cardiac angina or symptomatic human immunodeficiency virus syndrome. Moderate age-related macular degeneration causes a 40% decrease in the average patient's quality of life, similar to that associated with severe cardiac angina or renal dialysis. Very severe age-related macular degeneration causes a large 63% decrease in the average patient's quality of life, similar to that encountered with end-stage prostatic cancer or a catastrophic stroke that leaves a person bedridden, incontinent and requiring constant nursing care. The return on investment is high for both treatment with current age-related macular degeneration therapies and the research costs invested in the development of age-related macular degeneration treatment modalities.
Summary: Age-related macular degeneration is a major public health problem that has a devastating effect upon patients and marked adverse financial consequences for the economy.