Background: The importance of incorporating quality-of-life (QoL) assessments into medical practice is growing as health care practice shifts from a "disease-based" to a "patient-centered" model. The prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is increasing in today's aging population. The purpose of this paper is: (1) to discuss, by reviewing the current literature, the impact of AMD on patients' QoL and the utility of QoL assessments in evaluating the impact of AMD and its treatment; and (2) to make a recommendation for incorporating QoL into clinical practice.
Methods: We conducted a PubMed and an open Internet search to identify publications on the measurement of QoL in AMD, as well as the impact of AMD and the effect of treatment on QoL. A total of 28 articles were selected.
Results: AMD has been found to cause a severity-dependent decrement in QoL that is comparable to systemic diseases such as cancer, ischemic heart disease, and stroke. QoL impairment manifests as greater social dependence, difficulty with daily living, higher rates of clinical depression, increased risk of falls, premature admission to nursing homes, and suicide. The National Eye Institute Visual Functioning Questionnaire (NEI VFQ-25) is the most widely used eye disease-specific QoL instrument in AMD. It has been shown to correlate significantly with visual acuity (VA). QoL reflects aspects of AMD including psychological well-being, functional capacity, and the ability to perform patients' valued activities, which are not captured by a single, numerical VA score.
Conclusion: The literature shows that the adverse impact of AMD on QoL is comparable to serious systemic disease. Eye disease-specific instruments for measuring QoL, such as the NEI VFQ-25, have shown a significant correlation of QoL decrement with measures of disease severity, as well as significant QoL improvement with treatment. The NEI VFQ-25 and other validated instruments provide a wide-ranging assessment of vision-related functioning that is important to patients and complementary to VA measurement. We strongly recommend the incorporation of QoL assessment into routine clinical practice.
Keywords: NEI VFQ-25; clinical practice; patient-reported outcome; quality of life assessment; review; wet age-related macular degeneration.