Improving function in age-related macular degeneration: a randomized clinical trial

Ophthalmology. 2013 Aug;120(8):1649-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.01.022. Epub 2013 May 1.


Purpose: To compare the efficacy of problem-solving therapy (PST) with supportive therapy (ST) to improve targeted vision function (TVF) in age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Design: Single-masked, attention-controlled, randomized clinical trial with outcome assessments at 3 months (main trial endpoint) and 6 months (maintenance effects).

Participants: Patients with AMD (n = 241) attending retina practices.

Interventions: Whereas PST uses a structured problem-solving approach to reduce vision-related task difficulty, ST is a standardized attention-control treatment.

Main outcome measures: We assessed TVF, the 25-item National Eye Institute Vision Function Questionnaire plus Supplement (NEI VFQ), the Activities Inventory (AI), and vision-related quality of life (QoL).

Results: There were no between-group differences in TVF scores at 3 (P = 0.47) or 6 (P = 0.62) months. For PST subjects, mean ± standard deviation TVF scores improved from 2.71±0.52 at baseline to 2.18±0.88 at 3 months (P = 0.001) and were 2.18±0.95 at 6 months (change from 3 to 6 months, P = 0.74). For ST subjects, TVF scores improved from 2.73±0.52 at baseline to 2.14±0.96 at 3 months (P = 0.001) and were 2.15±0.96 at 6 months (change from 3 to 6 months, P = 0.85). Similar proportions of PST and ST subjects had less difficulty performing a TVF goal at 3 months (77.4% vs 78.6%, respectively; P = 0.83) and 6 months (76.2% vs 79.1%, respectively; P = 0.61). There were no changes in the NEI VFQ or AI. Vision-related QoL improved for PST relative to ST subjects at 3 months (F(4, 192) = 2.46; P = 0.05) and at 6 months (F(4, 178) = 2.55; P = 0.05). The PST subjects also developed more adaptive coping strategies than ST subjects.

Conclusions: We found that PST was not superior to ST at improving vision function in patients with AMD, but that PST improved their vision-related QoL. Despite the benefits of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor treatments, AMD remains associated with disability, depression, and diminished QoL. This clinical reality necessitates new rehabilitative interventions to improve the vision function and QoL of older persons with AMD.

Financial disclosure(s): The authors have no proprietary or commercial interest in any of the materials discussed in this article.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Macular Degeneration / therapy
  • Male
  • Problem Solving*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Vision Disorders / therapy
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*