Objective: Neovascular or wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness in industrialized countries; however, there is a lack of recent epidemiological data from Germany. The aim of this study was to collect epidemiological data from patients in Germany with suspected neovascular AMD and evaluate the diagnostic procedures performed and treatments used at clinics.
Methods: This was a Germany-based, multicentre, retrospective review of data from patients with suspected neovascular AMD visiting ophthalmology clinics over an 18 month period in 2008-10. Clinical characteristics, functional symptoms and examination results were recorded. In addition, ophthalmologists completed a questionnaire on neovascular AMD diagnosis and treatment.
Results: Ten sites collected data from 2498 patients (64.0% female) with a mean decimal visual acuity of 0.4 ± 0.3 at the time of diagnosis of neovascular AMD. The mean age at the time of diagnosis was 76.9 ± 8.9 years for patients with the right eye affected and 77.0 ± 8.3 years for patients with the left eye affected. The most frequent pathological findings detected by routine ophthalmic examination were old lesions (31.2%), intra/subretinal fluid (18.1%), new lesions (13.0%), and intra/subretinal haemorrhage (11.4%). A confirmed diagnosis of neovascular AMD was most frequently based on fundoscopy (67.3%), fluorescein angiography (39.6%), and biomicroscopy (35.7%) tests but rarely on optical coherence tomography (8.9%). The most frequently documented comorbidity with neovascular AMD was hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases (57.5%). Seven ophthalmologists completed the questionnaire with the majority of ophthalmologists agreeing that regular ophthalmic examination can prevent the development of late-stage neovascular AMD.
Conclusion: Neovascular AMD is a frequent diagnosis in German ophthalmology clinics. As visual acuity is already poor in most patients with suspected neovascular AMD, regular preventive ophthalmologic examinations should be considered in high risk patients.
Study limitations: Limitations of the study include the lack of a comparator cohort, which limited the amount of analyses that could be performed. Additionally, a study eye was not defined and information was collected separately for each affected eye and therefore analysed separately. Furthermore, a small number of ophthalmologists completed the questionnaire, limiting the objectivity.