Background: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a retinal disease affecting more than 2 million Canadians over the age of 50. The neovascular form of AMD is responsible for 90% of severe vision loss associated with the disease. This study was conducted to assess the burden of neovascular AMD in the Canadian population.
Methods: A cross-sectional, observational study was conducted of self-reported functional health, well-being, and disease burden among elderly subjects in Canada with (n = 67) and without (n = 99) neovascular AMD. Subjects completed telephone surveys of the National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25), the EuroQol questionnaire (EQ-5D), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Subjects also reported their history of falls and fractures and annual health care resource utilization.
Results: Subjects with neovascular AMD reported significantly worse vision-related functioning and overall well-being than controls (adjusted mean scores on the NEI-VFQ-25: 48.0 vs. 87.5; p < 0.0001) and significantly more depression symptoms than controls (HADS depression: 5.8 vs. 4.3; p = 0.037). Subjects with neovascular AMD also reported more than twice the need for assistance with daily activities compared with controls (19.4% vs. 9.1%; p = 0.013) and a nearly 3 times higher fall rate than the control group (22.4% vs. 8.1%; p = 0.014). The annual neovascular AMD cost per patient was Can dollars 11,334, which is over 8 times that of elderly subjects without neovascular AMD (Can dollars 1,412). Over half of the neovascular AMD costs were direct medical costs.
Interpretation: Neovascular AMD is associated with significant limitation in functional abilities and quality of life, resulting in increased health care resource utilization and high patient support costs. These findings emphasize the need for new treatments for neovascular AMD that will prevent vision loss and progression to blindness in order to lessen the ensuing economic burden.